It can take a long time to heal plantar fasciitis, so there is nothing more frustrating than when it flares up again and again.
Take preventative measures like wearing plantar fasciitis inserts and stretching your feet regularly, and avoid these 7 heel pain triggers:
1. Starting a new fitness activity
Finding new ways to get in your daily exercise is a great idea, but new activities may trigger plantar fasciitis. Sometimes it is just a matter of getting used to new movements and easing yourself into a new routine, but other times it may be the activity itself that is causing a real problem.
When you decide to try a new workout, make sure that you warm up thoroughly, learn proper form, and wear supportive footwear. Avoid activities that require that you work out barefoot (like some martial arts and dance classes), and exercises that are particularly jarring to the feet.
2. Changes of intensity in activities
Even if you walk or run regularly, changing the intensity of your workouts can trigger plantar fasciitis. Sprinting when you normally jog, or power walking when you usually walk at a leisurely pace will put an added strain on your feet that your body isn’t used to. If you want to ramp up your workouts, do so slowly and make sure that you take extra preventative measures like icing and stretching your feet.
3. Weight gain (even healthy weight gain)
Weight gain is a common cause and contributing factor to plantar fasciitis. Whether you are gaining body fat, muscle mass, or healthy weight from a pregnancy, the added pounds put extra strain on your feet. This can cause plantar fasciitis for the first time, or trigger a new bout once you have already healed.
If you know that weight gain has triggered your plantar fasciitis, the first solution to consider is losing weight. If this is not possible (like with pregnancy), try to rest and elevate your feet more, and consider orthotic treatments.
4. Tight calf muscles
The feet and calves are highly connected, so when you experience problems with your calves it’s also likely to cause problems with your feet. Tight calves may be caused by exercise, excessive sitting, regular daily activity, or insufficient stretching.
5. New shoes
Trying a new style of shoes will sometimes trigger plantar fasciitis if they do not provide the proper support that you need. Shoes that are too flexible may cause added tension to the plantar fascia ligament, and different padding distribution may alter your foot strike as you walk or jog.
To minimize the risk, try to only buy shoes that are immediately comfortable, not that you will need to “break in”. If you need the added support of arch supports or plantar fascia inserts, it’s usually best to replace them with your new shoes. If you don’t yet have a new pair, swap your old inserts into your new shoes until you are able to replace them to ensure you have proper support at all times.
6. Old shoes
While new shoes can cause problems for plantar fasciitis, wearing worn out shoes also poses a risk. If your shoes are showing noticeable wear on the insoles or bottom tread, it’s probably time to toss them out. Buy a new pair of the same style of shoes, or visit a footwear store and get the help of a fitting specialist.
Injuries like plantar fascia ligament strains and trauma can trigger a pain flare-up as well. These injuries can be caused by stepping on uneven surfaces or objects, tripping, or sustaining a blow to the foot. If you sustain an injury, take care of it immediately by icing and elevating it, and visit a doctor if you have any concerns.
Prevention is the key to avoiding reoccurrences of plantar fasciitis – and that includes avoid common heel pain triggers.