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Splurge or Save: Your Guide to Heel Pain Products

Heel Pain Product GuideWhether this is your first rodeo with heel pain and plantar fasciitis, or you’ve been around the block more times than you care to remember, you’ve certainly seen your share of gadgets and products that help treat and relieve pain from this common condition.

And while it’s certainly possible to spend your entire paycheck on a new pair of orthotic shoes or a deluxe massager, could you get the same relief at a better price?

We’ve compiled a list of the top products for treating and relieving pain from plantar fasciitis, complete with cost and effectiveness, to give you a better idea of when to splurge, and when save your dollars by using a less-expensive but equally effective alternative.

The good news is, fast, effective pain relief doesn’t have to cost much at all:

Ice Packs

Icing is one of the best ways to reduce inflammation, swelling, pain, and redness caused by plantar fasciitis. But should you spend or splurge?

Ice Slippers

Buy Ice Slippers

SPLURGE. In this case, spending a few dollars on a high quality ice pack made especially for icing the feet and heels is worth every penny. While saving a few bucks with frozen peas or a baggie full of ice and a paper towel might seem like a good idea at first, the end result is always messy and less than precise. Ice Pack Slippers, made especially for plantar fasciitis sufferers, are reusable, no mess, and keep the ice where you need it 100 percent of the time with full-sole coverage and handy straps.

 

Orthotic Shoes

How much do shoes for plantar fasciitis cost? The short answer is, a lot. But are they worth the splurge, or should you save up for something else?

SAVE. Not only are orthotic shoes for plantar fasciitis heavy and limiting in style. A pair of generic orthotic shoes can easily run you into the $200-dollar range, while a pair of custom orthotics can cost $400-$600. Fortunately, there’s an alternative that has been proven just as effective: high-quality, non-orthotic footwear paired with orthotic inserts (more on this, below!). Choose properly fitting footwear with plenty of cushioning and heel support, then just add inserts! You’ll get the same cushioning arch support and relief, without the price tag.

Check out these tips for finding the best affordable shoes for plantar fasciitis.

Orthotic Inserts

How much should you spend on plantar fasciitis inserts? While expensive might seem to indicate better, it’s simply not the case–thank goodness!

SAVE. It’s possible to spend a LOT of money (think hundreds) on custom plantar fasciitis inserts. Thankfully, there’s a far less expensive but equally effective option: Heel Seats. These orthotic inserts are the only product on the market with Fascia Bar technology, which has been proven to improve healing by lifting and supporting the arch at the optimal level for healing, along with cushioning damaged feet and drastically improving pain.

Mobility and Stretching Tools

With a quick search, you’ll find all kinds of zany-looking gadgets that promise to stretch your feet and arches to their fullest potential. After all, stretching is one of the best ways to improve flexibility and strength in the arch and surrounding muscles and ligaments, as well as promote circulation and healing. But are the gadgets worth the cost?

SAVE. There’s no need for fancy stretching devices. All of the most effective stretches for plantar fasciitis can be done using common household objects, or just your own body.

Free and easy stretches for plantar fasciitis.

Massage Tools

Massage is another tried and true way to treat the pain from plantar fasciitis, by breaking up adhesions on the fascia and using pressure to numb pain signals. A professional massage feels great once in awhile, but to reap the full benefits of massage, you’ll want to use it more than once in awhile.

Foot Massage Ball

SAVE. Either use a tennis ball or golf ball for (nearly) free, or make a small investment in a washable Massage Ball made especially for plantar fasciitis. A Massage Ball has more give than a tennis or golf ball, resulting in more versatility and pressure-level options.

Compression Socks

Compression socks can help improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and bring down swelling when plantar fasciitis and heel pain are present. And while it might seem like socks are socks, it’s worth it on this one to pay just a little extra to get truly comfortable, breathable compression socks that deliver just the right amount of compression throughout the day. Sure, it’s possible to snag a pair of compression socks for a few dollars less on Amazon, but because so many factors go into the perfect pair of compression socks, we recommend paying just a little extra for one of the only compression sock brands backed by a 100% money-back guarantee.

SPLURGE. Foot Health Socks $22.95 per pair

Night Splints

A good night splint boot can easily cost upwards of $50. This product works by keeping the foot gently flexed while you sleep or rest, improving flexibility, circulation, and greatly reducing the classic “morning pain” that plantar fasciitis sufferers endure. But when it comes to night splints, there’s two less expensive–and more comfortable–alternatives. Instead of using a bulky, heavy (and more expensive) boot, opt for a lighter weight, more comfortable night splint that offers the same stretch. Or use a sock night splint instead, which keeps the foot flexed at the perfect angle–without the boot!

SAVE:
Sock Night Splint: $39.95

Economical, fancy, or free, you have lots of options when it comes to choosing products to relieve the pain of plantar fasciitis. And at the end of the day, what matters the most isn’t the cost–it’s getting you back on your feet. But if you can save a little money without sacrificing quality, that’s money you can spend on something other than your feet!

7 Heel Spur Myths and Facts

Heel Spur Myth and TruthThere’s a lot of mystery and misinformation out there about heel spurs.

The x-ray photos of tiny white shark-fins protruding into the fatty pad of the heel, combined with the idea of a pointy, painful growth suddenly appearing is more than a little alarming, and foot folklore abounds when it comes to what heel spurs are capable of–and how they can be banished.

So, what’s the true story of these stealthy, sharp intruders?

In this post, we’ll separate fact from fiction and explore some of the most common truths and myths about heel spurs. After all, when you know the real truth about heel spurs, you can take the right steps to treat them!

#1: Can Heel Spurs Break Off?

TRUE. While uncommon, heel spurs do break off now and then, separating from the heel bone and becoming embedded in the foot’s soft tissues. When this happens, you may notice “locking” of the foot when you walk, and additional pain and discomfort.

The best way to avoid breakage is to treat heel spurs as soon as they become apparent through pain, discomfort, and a sharp jabbing sensation in the heel, especially during the first few steps in the morning. Wearing Heel Seats, which raise the arch to a healthy position and take the pressure off heel spurs, can also minimize the chances of breakage.

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#2: Can Heel Spurs Be Removed?

Heel Spur Illustration

TRUE. While surgery is recommended only after conservative treatments have been unsuccessful after at least one year, heel spurs can be removed through surgical intervention.

Guided by a tiny camera, a surgeon can use precise instruments to cut away the bony fragment protruding into the fatty pad of the heel. Heel spur removal surgery is often accompanied by plantar fascia release surgery, which detaches part of the plantar fascia from the heel bone, relieving stress and pressure on the arch.

Even when it’s determined that surgery is the best option to treat heel spurs, it’s important to take preventative steps to keep the heel spurs from returning, by supporting the arch of the foot and providing proper cushioning and impact absorption through high-quality footwear.

#3: Can Heel Spurs Be Dissolved?

UNCLEAR: While you’ll find numerous blog posts and supplements that claim to dissolve heel spurs, there isn’t a lot of scientific research to back these claims. Some suggest that simple apple cider vinegar added to the diet will dissolve heel spurs. Others insist that a deficiency in K2 and D3 vitamins are a contributing cause to the development of bone spurs, and that supplementing with these vitamins will allow the body to naturally dissolve the spurs.

While these natural remedies are generally harmless (as long as you stay within the prescribed daily recommendations for any vitamin supplement), it’s also vital to continue proven treatments for heel spurs, such as icing, rest, stretches, and the use of orthotic shoe inserts.

#4: Can Heel Spurs Move Around?

MOSTLY FALSE. Heel spurs are the result of calcium deposits that cause bony protrusions to grow out of the heel bone. In general, they stay affixed to one spot, although multiple heel spurs may develop on one heel bone.

In rare cases, the heel spur may break off from the heel bone, becoming embedded in the soft tissue and causing additional pain.

#5: Can Heel Spurs Cause Back Pain or Hip Pain?

Heel Spurs Back Pain

TRUE. While heel spurs won’t directly cause back or hip pain, they can contribute to and exacerbate it. Heel spurs, especially when left untreated, will cause your gait to change, as you attempt to avoid the pain from the sharp protrusions. Over time, this can lead to misalignment and strain to the hips and back.

#6: Can Heel Spurs Break Through the Skin?

MYTH. While the sharp, piercing pain from a heel spur can, indeed, feel as though the tiny protrusion is trying to break through the skin, heel spurs cannot break through the skin.

When calcaneal heel spurs become very large, it may be possible to feel them beneath the skin; However, there’s no need to fear that the bony protrusion will actually break through the skin.

#7: Can Heel Spurs Make Your Feet Go Numb?

FALSE. As a general rule, heel spurs and plantar fasciitis will cause swelling, redness, and sharp, stabbing pains–but not numbness. If you’re experiencing numbness in one or both feet, Tarsal Tunnel syndrome is a more likely culprit.

Often confused for plantar fasciitis or heel spurs, Tarsal Tunnel syndrome is a result of compression of the tibial nerve and causes numbness and a “pins and needles” sensation, rather than sharp, stabbing pain.

The Truth About Preventing Heel Spurs

Now that you know the truth about heel spurs, you can take effective steps to prevent and treat them. The best way to avoid the development of new heel spurs or damage and pain from existing footwear is to support the arch of your foot properly. After all, a lack of arch support is one of the most common causes heel spurs develop in the first place!

Wear shoes that fit properly and give your heels and arches adequate cushioning and support. Add orthotic inserts to provide an additional boost in support and lift your arch to the optimal height, keeping heel spurs at bay and relieving pain from existing spurs.

It’s also important to maintain a healthy weight and rest your feet often when you’re required to stand for long periods of time.

Think of heel spurs as your foot’s prickly response to an overworked, over-strained arch. By taking care of that arch properly, most cases of heel spurs can be resolved with minimal mystery!

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What Is Plantar Fasciitis Surgery Really Like? Sarah’s Story

Plantar Fasciitis Surgery StoryWhen it comes to plantar fasciitis, everyone has a story. And while each person’s story is unique, the numerous forums, Facebook groups, and Reddit threads devoted to plantar fasciitis are evidence of how helpful it can be to share and learn from other people’s experiences with this painful condition. It’s one thing to scan through a list of symptoms and treatment options on a medical website–and quite another to hear about someone’s real, lived experience.

One of the biggest decisions that sufferers of chronic plantar fasciitis face is whether or not to have surgery. And while it just may be the most talked-about topic in the world of plantar fasciitis, the cost, the potential complications, and the recovery process for plantar fasciitis surgery can still feel like big unknowns.

Sarah, who has suffered from plantar fasciitis for more than two years, has generously offered to share the details of her story with our audience. In our interview, we talked about her decision to have heel pain surgery, her expectations, the recovery process, the costs involved, and how she’s doing now, post-surgery. Sarah underwent plantar fascia release surgery as well as tarsal tunnel surgery for both feet, with one year between surgery on each foot.

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Exhausting Non-Surgical Options for Heel Pain

Heel That Pain: What treatments did you try prior to making the decision to have tarsal tunnel and plantar fascia release surgery?

Sarah: I started having problems with my feet while training for a marathon (I can pretty much pinpoint when it happened, from increasing my mileage too quickly). The pain quickly escalated and I tried the following things:

First, I went to two different podiatrists and finally ended up at an orthopedist for a third opinion prior to my surgeries. I started with the most conventional/most conservative treatments first; rest, ice, stretching, and over-the-counter pain meds. After a visit to my podiatrist, I also got a prescription for anti-inflammatories.

I tried over-the-counter orthotics, cortisone shots, heel cups, LOTS of different shoes (so expensive!), chiropractic treatments, massage, night splints, and a wrap/taping treatment that the second podiatrist recommended. The first podiatrist took x-rays to confirm I didn’t have a bone spur or stress fracture. At this point, I had been suffering with the pain of plantar fasciitis for almost 9 months. It was absolutely all-consuming in my life. I know others can attest to the same experience. You are pretty much willing to try anything. My first podiatrist had said that if none of the conservative treatments helped, I would most likely need to consider surgery.

The orthopaedic surgeon who ultimately performed my surgery did an MRI and confirmed that I not only had plantar fasciitis, but also tarsal tunnel syndrome. Essentially, there was scar tissue wrapped around the nerve in my foot, which was causing the extreme pain I was experiencing. I had gone from running a marathon (I did complete it, by the way!) to not being able to walk around a grocery store. My orthopedist confirmed what the podiatrists had said. I could try physical therapy, but after so little success with conservative treatments, I was really just putting off the inevitable: surgery.

Facing Fears About Plantar Fasciitis Surgery

Heel That Pain: What concerns did you have about surgery–and how did you address those concerns?

Sarah: I was really concerned that I would have a LOT of pain post-surgery–that I would never feel “normal” again. I love to work out, and I was really concerned that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy those activities again for a very long time. When I looked online to research other people’s experiences, all I could find were the negative stories, the horror stories about failed surgeries. It was pretty disheartening to say the least. I finally did meet one person who had had actually had the surgery by my same doctor. She was amazing. Very active, close to my age, and the surgery really hadn’t slowed her down. That helped put my mind at ease. I scheduled my first surgery, on my left foot, in 2016.

Choosing the Right Doctor

Heel That Pain: What role did your relationship with your doctor play in this surgery? Pretty minimal, or significant?

Sarah: It was very significant. The orthopaedic surgeon I chose is an active person–he’s younger and a runner, and I felt like he really “got” me and respected my fears. He understood what my goals with the surgery were, took the time to talk to me about outcomes and realistic expectations, and I trusted him completely. He performed my first surgery in 2016, and I was so happy with the process. For my second surgery on my right foot, he was in the middle of moving to a new practice, and I had to wait a couple of months to get in to see him. I was in pain, and I could have seen someone else, but I opted to wait for him because I trusted him.

When I was in the process of choosing a doctor for surgery, I ultimately decided that I really wanted to have an orthopaedic surgeon who specialized in foot/ankle (rather than a podiatrist) perform the surgery. I really valued the additional specialization and expertise. That said, I think a big part of choosing a surgeon is a matter of trust. For me, an orthopaedic surgeon was the right decision, but others might have a different experience.

Plantar Fasciitis Surgery Photo

Post-Plantar Fasciitis Surgery Photo

Heel Pain Surgery and Recovery

Heel That Pain: Can you tell us about the type of surgery you had?

Sarah: I had surgery twice, once on each foot (tarsal tunnel and plantar fascia release). After I developed the first case from marathon training, I had surgery in 2016. When I was completely healed and starting to walk/jog a little again, I got plantar fasciitis in the other foot. That was incredibly depressing! I suspect that the other foot was doing double-duty for a long time supporting the other one, and it finally had enough 🙂 Luckily, I don’t anticipate any further surgeries. My doctor told me that out of the hundreds of surgeries he’s done though, he’s only had to redo two and in both instances they were patients who had other health concerns/situations that impacted the surgical success.

My doctor recommended a slightly variation from the typical way this surgery is usually performed. He recommended an open (as opposed to laparoscopic) surgery to assess the scope of the problem. He then released my plantar fascia, and removed approximately a one-centimeter cube of tissue, which created a tunnel for the nerve to pass through. I would advise someone interested in this particular variation of plantar fascia surgery to ask around. My doctor also performed the surgery through an incision in the side of the foot, below the ankle. This helped with the healing process.

Heel That Pain: What was recovery like? Was it easier or more difficult than you expected?

Sarah: Honestly, recovery was SO much easier than I expected. I’m amazed after all the horror stories I read, but both times I had zero surgery pain. The hospital sent me home with a prescription for pain meds, and I’ve never even used it. Just a couple Tylenol here and there for mild discomfort, swelling, and bruising. In other words, pain wise, surgery was a piece of cake.

The hardest part, for me, during both recoveries, was the crutches. Crutching around is HARD WORK! If you have a job that will allow you to work from home, I’d really recommend you take advantage of it at this time.

The first two weeks I spent wrapped up in an ace bandage and a surgical shoe. I was allowed to do light toe touches while crutching. After two weeks, I was placed in a walking boot. I was told to stay in that walking boot until I felt like I could transition to a shoe. This timing would be different for every individual. After my first surgery on my left foot, it took me about 2-3 weeks. The second time, I was in a shoe in a week. Something to be aware of is that you tend to lose some flexibility in your foot/ankle/knee because of the position of your foot in the surgical shoe and boot. Getting that strength back takes some time.

Another difficult aspect of recovery, for me, was psychological. It was scary to think that I might start feeling the pain from plantar fasciitis again post-surgery. Trusting myself to walk without pain, as I began to recover, was a leap of faith. It was also difficult having to ask people to get me stuff or help me. I’m a pretty independent person, and it was hard to be so reliant on other people while I was recovering.

Plantar Fasciitis Surgery Recovery Photo

Plantar Fasciitis Surgery Recovery

Post-Surgery Results

Heel That Pain: How long did it take for you to feel normal again after surgery?

Sarah: I really had no idea what to expect from the surgery recovery, or how long it would take for me to feel normal again. Stories online made it sound like I would be on bed rest for months, unable to do anything. My doctor made it sound like a breeze (He told me it would be a couple of weeks in an ace bandage, then I’d be walking around).

My experience was honestly somewhere in the middle. On my left foot, it took about 6 months before I was feeling truly “normal” again. (Meaning I could throw on sneakers, go for a walk and not feel any type of pain). On my other foot, the one I just had done in June 2017, I’m already there. So two months, and I’m back in business! I also learned from my first surgery and didn’t wait as long to take action and commit to surgery. I think that was key. I didn’t cause as much damage limping around that time.

Heel That Pain: Are there any complications from surgery that you’re still dealing with? How do you continue to keep your feet and fascia healthy?

Sarah: The only thing I really notice now is that my feet do tend to feel “achy” sometimes. Usually it’s first thing in the morning, or if I’ve been on them too long. It’s not pain, but it’s more like it takes my body more time to warm up. I listen to my body and take it easy when that happens, do I some stretches, etc. I also realize this could be happening because I’m getting older, too. 🙂

I stretch daily now, mainly calf and soleus stretches. I still use orthotics in my running shoes, and I make sure to wear good shoes with support. I also massage and use a roller ball on occasion. Staying active, walking, and working out seem to help too. I did physical therapy after the first surgery, but not the second one. Building up the strength and flexibility by simply using your feet as you can is really helpful.

Pain Relief from Plantar Fasciitis Surgery

Heel That Pain: If you had to quantify it, how much did the surgery help, pain-wise?

Sarah: Everyone will have a different experience. But for me, the pain is gone. And I mean 100%! Even right after the surgery, and during recovery, I could tell that the PF pain was GONE. It’s amazing.

Plantar Fasciitis Surgery Cost

Heel That Pain: Can you tell us about costs?

Sarah: My insurance covered my surgery completely the first time, since i had already met the deductible that year. I paid a couple of copays for office visits, and that was it. The second time, I had to pay a small portion since my deductible hadn’t been met. It was close to $200. This isn’t a cosmetic procedure, so the insurance companies will typically cover a significant percentage. Without insurance, or with a different type of insurance, things would obviously be difference.

A Few More Words of Advice

Heel That Pain: Is there anything you wish you had known prior to surgery? And what advice do you have for others who are considering plantar fasciitis surgery or tarsal tunnel surgery?

Sarah: I put off having the surgery the first time around because of my fear. I wish I’d had the first one sooner! Honestly, compared to the chronic, unaddressed pain of plantar fasciitis, the surgery was nothing.

My biggest recommendation is to find a REALLY good doctor, someone you trust, who has a good track record doing the surgery you need and specializes in it. It truly makes all the difference. Also, don’t be afraid. If you’ve given conservative treatments a true effort for months on end and your heel pain is to the point where it’s now a chronic condition, you can either feel the same in 6 months, feel worse, or give the surgery a try and potentially get a lot of relief.

Just keep in mind, while planning for your surgery, that you’ll likely be on crutches and a boot for a few weeks. The other foot will also be working harder–more pressure, more impact, and supporting you more. Keep wearing a good supportive shoe and orthotics on that other foot.

Share Your Story!

Do you have a story to share about surgery for plantar fasciitis? We’d love to hear about your experience and advice for others who are considering this step. Share below in the comments or email us at [email protected]!

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Fractures, Breaks, and Plantar Fasciitis

Fractures Breaks and Plantar FasciitisA broken foot or traumatic foot injury means pain, restricted mobility, plenty of downtime, and sometimes even significant medical interventions.

And as if the fallout from a stress fracture or break wasn’t bad enough, this type of foot trauma is also closely linked with the development of plantar fasciitis.

Here’s what you should know about the link between a broken foot or ankle and plantar fasciitis:

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The Connection Between Plantar Fasciitis and Breaks or Fractures

The reports of plantar fasciitis beginning after a break or stress fracture are numerous. But why? Many podiatrists point to ankle instability as one of the primary reasons individuals are vulnerable to plantar fasciitis after sustaining traumatic foot injury:

Dr. Baravarian, the Chief of Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgery at the Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center and Orthopedic Hospital says, “To compensate for an unstable ankle, the increased activation of the peroneal tendons places a pronatory effect on the foot, causing increased strain on the plantar fascia and resulting in plantar fasciitis symptoms.”

In other words, when one part of the foot is compromised, other areas of the foot (muscles, tendons, and ligaments) take up the slack, leading to gait changes like pronation or simply additional strain on other parts of the foot. Even when a bone or fracture has completely healed, the rest and downtime during the healing process can result in muscles and ligaments that are tighter, weaker–and less able to support the foot arch as usual.

Plantar fasciitis may also develop in the non-injured foot during the healing process, as the healthy foot over-compensates. It’s critically important to adequately rest the non-injured foot during your recovery as well as keeping an eye out for signs of plantar fasciitis, including pain, redness, swelling, inflammation, and stiffness, especially in the morning.

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Preventing Plantar Fasciitis in Cases of Traumatic Foot Injury

While most people who suffer a stress fracture, foot or ankle break, or traumatic foot injury take special care of the injured foot during the healing process, it’s important to understand that the healthy foot is at risk for injury as well.

Follow a daily regimen of adequate rest, stretching the healthy foot, icing as any redness or swelling appears, and wearing orthotic inserts for additional support.

Special care is also needed post-recovery to avoid a secondary trauma of plantar fasciitis.

Ramp up to physical activity slowly, even after you get the all-clear from your doctor and the boot, brace, or cast has been removed. While your foot or ankle may feel as good as new (if a bit weaker than before), now is the time that plantar fasciitis may sneak in to wreak havoc on your arch. During your recovery, and while your foot was immobilized, the muscles in your foot have atrophied, meaning that they are less able to support your foot and arch.

Foot stretches for plantar fasciitis

Prioritizing a daily foot, heel, and ankle stretches can make a world of difference in improving muscle and ligament flexibility and strength, both of which will help support your arch properly and reduce the amount of compensation for your weakened muscles and ligaments.

Wearing orthotic inserts is another terrific way to support your arch while your muscles and ligaments regain flexibility and strength. The specialized orthotics, which can be easily slipped into almost any pair of shoes, add both cushioning, support, and targeted acupressure to keep plantar fasciitis at bay.

Special Considerations in Treating Plantar Fasciitis Alongside Breaks or Stress Fractures

If you do notice symptoms of the onset of plantar fasciitis in your healthy foot while you are dealing with a broken foot or stress fracture, be sure to make your doctor aware of the new development to address any potential complications in your unique case.

Your doctor may recommend a different type of aide in helping you move about (for instance, a rolling knee scooter instead of crutches, to reduce the impact to your healthy foot while you move about during the day.

In addition to stretching, icing, and using NSAIDs as needed for your healthy foot, you may also consider wearing a night splint or compression socks at night to further stretch and strengthen your healthy foot.

While it can be easy to devote all your attention to the foot that has undergone the traumatic injury or break, it’s critical to adjust your mindset to adequately resting and caring for both feet during your recovery and post-recovery.

Healing from your broken foot or stress fracture should be your first priority if you’ve undergone a traumatic foot injury. But understanding the connection between a broken foot and plantar fasciitis and knowing how to prevent and treat the early warning signs of this condition will help ensure that you recover and as quickly and smoothly as possible!

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Worst Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis

Worst Exercises for Plantar FasciitisIf you have plantar fasciitis, part of your plan for healing should be avoiding activities that have the potential to make your heel pain worse.

While it’s generally possible to stay active while you are recovering from plantar fasciitis with the help of orthotic inserts, icing, and plenty of rest, it’s important to be aware that several types of exercise are top culprits for aggravating plantar fasciitis or causing reinjury and further damage to the plantar fascia.

Let’s take a look at the worst exercises for plantar fasciitis (and how you can adapt them to continue the activities you love without damaging a compromised plantar fascia!)

Top 5 Worst Exercises for Heel Pain

When we’re talking about the worst exercises for plantar fasciitis and heel pain, it all comes down to impact: the amount of force a particular movement exerts on your body. If you have plantar fasciitis, it’s important to avoid or modify high-impact exercises (not to be confused with high intensity workouts). It’s still completely possible to burn a lot of calories and get a terrific workout–without putting a lot of strain on your heels and fascia. Take extra precautions with these top-offending exercises for heel pain:

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1. Plyometrics

Plyometric exercises, also called “plyos” or “jump training” is one of the worst exercises for heels and arches that are recovering from plantar fasciitis. The exercises involve short bursts of energy that build control and power in the muscles with various types of jumping. The sudden jolts of impact to the arch can easily cause further tearing, strain, and damage.

Plantar Fasciitis-Friendly Modifications

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to make plyometrics friendly to a compromised fascia, since the exercise revolves around jumping. Focus on healing completely, and approach this exercise with caution when your doctor gives you the okay!

2. Running or Jogging

Running and jogging are two of the top causes of plantar fasciitis, so it should come as no surprise that these exercises should be approached with the utmost caution for individuals who have plantar fasciitis. As the foot is lifted and strikes the ground with each step, the amount of impact generated is several times that of walking.

Plantar Fasciitis-Friendly Modifications

Slow things down a bit and try walking (or speed walking!) with orthotic inserts while you heal. As your plantar fasciitis improves, and with the okay from your doctor, you can gradually work up to jogging or running again–with proper footwear, adequate rest, and orthotics for cushioning and support.

3. Burpees

Burpees might be all the rage, but they’re another top-offending exercise for plantar fasciitis. Burpees, also sometimes called squat thrusts, involves dropping quickly to a squatting position, shifting to a plank, swiftly jumping back to a squatting position, then standing. Because the exercise involves a lot of quick movements and impact as you transition between the different positions, it’s easy to re-injure or strain the fascia.

Plantar Fasciitis-Friendly Modifications

Take the movements you love from the burpee exercise and slow them down. Plank (on your knees, to reduce the strain to the fascia), and perform squats without the jumping action, alternating these strength-building exercises with low-impact cardio like the elliptical machine to get your heart rate up.

4. High-Impact Team Sports

Plantar Fasciitis Soccer

Soccer and basketball are two of the most popular team sports for teens and adults in the US. Unfortunately, they also carry high risk of causing and aggravating plantar fasciitis. Both sports involve a lot of running, a lot of impact to the plantar fascia, and a lot of rapid changes in movement–all of which can cause small tears and injury to a strained fascia.

Plantar Fasciitis-Friendly Modifications

If you’re solidly on the road to healing and your doctor supports the decision, you can still play these sports with the help of orthotic inserts for cushioning and fascial support. You’ll also want to make good use of massage balls, taping, icing, NSAIDs, and plenty of rest between games to make sure you aren’t overdoing it. Let your teammates know that you may need to spend more time in positions that don’t involve quite as much running while you heal.

5. Cardio Dancing and Aerobics

Cardio dancing and aerobics can be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, they can also cause a lot of heel pain because of the amount of impact and quick footwork. Cardio dancing and aerobics involve a lot of time on your feet, and a lot of jumping and hopping, which can lead to inflammation, pain, and strain to the fascia.

Dance for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis-Friendly Modifications

Work with your instructor to come up with alternative movements to jumps and hops (for instance, more arm movements). That way, when a lot of hopping begins, you’ll know just what to do. Be sure to wear comfortable, supportive shoes, and orthotic inserts. If you’re looking for a lower-impact alternative to cardio dancing and aerobics, you can also try pilates and yoga, which incorporate group fitness with a low-impact focus.

Exercising the Healthy Way with Plantar Fasciitis

Whether you decide to modify one of these worst-offending exercises for plantar fasciitis, or choose a lower-impact exercise (like swimming, pilates, yoga, rowing, or the elliptical) while you are healing, exercise is important for your health and your spirits. No matter which activity you choose, paying attention to the amount of impact your heels and fascia are absorbing will help you avoid problematic exercises and prevent re-injury. Likewise, taking time to ice, rest, and stretch as you work out and play will help your fascia, muscles, and ligaments stay limber and healthy.

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