One of the first things we military veterans learn in our military careers is the importance of foot care. We would spend our days marching from place to place for our many different training evolution’s. During our early days of preparing for combat operations, we would be on our feet from sun up to sun down. Foot care was imperative to our success as young troops. However, proper foot care extends into our civilian lives too. If we do not care for our feet, we lose our mobility. Once we have lost mobility, we begin losing our health too. Plantar fasciitis is a debilitating condition that can cause you to lose your ability to remain mobile.
Plantar fasciitis can occur for many reasons, it is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes (plantar fascia).
When you have plantar fasciitis you will experience a deep stabbing pain that can damn near cripple you with your first steps in the morning when you get out of bed. Once you get up and move, the pain might decrease some, but it might return after long periods of standing or when you stand up after sitting. While plantar fasciitis is more common in runners, people who are overweight and those who wear shoes with inadequate support have an increased risk of developing plantar fasciitis. If you are morbidly obese, plantar fasciitis can finish off your ability to walk on your own.
When you develop plantar fasciitis you are typically going to experience a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel. The pain is usually the worst with the first few steps after awakening, although it can also be triggered by long periods of standing or when you get up after sitting. The pain is usually worse after exercise, not during it. When you have it, you might find yourself hating life each and every time you have to get on your feet. It will seem that nothing you do will ease the pain when you try to stand and walk.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Your plantar fascia is in the shape of a bowstring, supporting the arch of your foot and absorbing shock when you walk. If tension and stress on this bowstring become too great, small tears can occur in the fascia. Repeated stretching and tearing can irritate or inflame the fascia. Although the cause remains unclear in many cases of plantar fasciitis some factors can increase your risk of developing this condition. They include:
- Age. Plantar fasciitis is most common between the ages of 40 and 60.
- Certain types of exercise. Activities that place a lot of stress on your heel and attached tissue — such as long-distance running, ballet dancing and aerobic dance — can contribute to the onset of plantar fasciitis.
- Foot mechanics. Flat feet, a high arch or even an abnormal pattern of walking can affect the way weight is distributed when you’re standing and can put added stress on the plantar fascia.
- Obesity. Excess pounds put extra stress on your plantar fascia.
- Occupations that keep you on your feet. Factory workers, teachers and others who spend most of their work hours walking or standing on hard surfaces can damage the plantar fascia.
Some of the risk factors such as age, foot mechanics, and occupation you have might have little to no control over. In regards to foot mechanics and occupation, it is imperative that you buy shoes that are correct for your foot type. You can also have orthotics custom made to give your arch the proper support they require.
A Factor You Can Control
You can control your weight!
The more you weigh, the harder your feet must work to support your body. This is a simple common sense fact. If your ideal body weight should be 150 pounds and you weigh 300 pounds, this is akin to you at a normal weight carrying around a 150 pound back pack 24 hours a day. That added weight is a huge strain on the connective tissue in your feet. Simply put, people who are overweight are putting more pressure on their ankles, knees, and hips as well as their feet. The more weight you allow yourself to gain, the more you risk losing your mobility. Loss of mobility and obesity becomes a vicious cycle that feeds upon itself.
You can, and should, break the link of obesity. When the body is overweight, it tries to compensate by changing the way that it moves. An obese person may lean forward and put extra weight on the wrong part of the foot. This puts unnecessary stress on the feet. Obesity can create a flat foot posture to develop as the excessive pressure on the feet from supporting the excess body weight can change the structure of the foot. This leads to an unhealthy distribution of weight on the feet which leads to improper foot movements while walking. As the foot arch flattens, the plantar fascia ligament which runs through the bottom of the foot, stretches excessively and causes one to suffer great pain when supporting their body weight.
See Your Doctor
No matter your weight, if you suffer from Plantar Fasciitis, go see your doctor who can assist you with getting set up with “orthotics”. These are shoe inserts that support the arch and cushion the heel. The inserts range from basic, off-the-shelf supports to expensive, custom-made versions that will help your feet to get better over time. It may be pricey as you may need to see a podiatrist for this. However, the price of a loss of mobility is even worse.
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