The first days of summer are fast approaching. As you enjoy the warmer temperatures, it's important to take care of your feet. Unfortunately, many sunny days have been followed by aching arches and heels that scream for mercy in the morning. While potentially tolerable, ignoring the condition or trying to “push through it” often escalates the severity and extends the recovery time. So, rather than trying to tough it out, accept the reality plantar fasciitis (don't worry, it's fairly common), understand exactly what it is, and then follow a few simple steps to start the healing process.
What is plantar fasciitis?
In your foot, there is a tendon called the plantar fascia that runs from the ball of the foot, through the arch, and back to the heel. When the arch lacks adequate support due to cheap shoes, flip flops, or extensive time bare feet the tendon is pulled and stretched causing discomfort in the arch or at the attachment point in the heel. Those who have lower or more flexible arches are typically more susceptible.
Tips for healing your plantar
While painful, plantar is not always difficult to heal if you take action quickly. Here are a few tips to speed up the recovery process.
1. Cut out the dollar store flip flops
Not all sandals are created equal and some will provide more support than others. If you must wear flip flops, opt for higher end models with a more structured footbed. Olukai sandals are a great option, as they provide a molded arch that helps relieve troubled feet.
2. Check your running shoes
A poor fitting or worn out running shoe can severely aggravate the issue. If the problem persists or gets worse with running, bring your running shoes into a running specialty store and have someone verify they’re right for you.
3. Heal while you sleep
Massive gains can be made while you’re sleeping. Products like the Strassburg Sock or Pro-Tec Soft Night Splint provide comfortable dorsiflexion throughout the night and dramatically increase the rate of recovery.
4. Address your work shoes
Not everyone has the privilege of wearing sneakers to work. If you must wear dress shoes (or any type of non-sneaker) throughout the day, consider adding the Superfeet Easy Fit Insole. This 3/4 insole is a low volume option that can be added to almost any footwear, and at $30 is possibly the best bang for the buck available.
5. Massage (but don’t overdo it)
Gently massaging the arch area of the foot for 10 - 15 minutes at a time can help to relieve tension and increase blood flow through the afflicted area. Items like the Pro-Tec Spiky Massage ball provide a great option for gently digging into the tendon. If you’re on a budget or can’t get out to shop, using a golf ball in the arch can often provide a similar level of relief.
Disclaimer: This blog is merely guidance based on 18+ years of experience in the running specialty industry. This advice is not meant to replace or override the recommendations of a medical professional. If the pain persists, seek medical attention to make sure you aren't dealing with a more serious condition.