As every great athlete knows, avoiding injury is just as important to athletic success as the hours of long training. However, while some athletes are extra careful with the ACL or rotator cuff, few give much thought to the most important part of the body - their feet. Plantar fasciitis, the medical term used to describe painful tears to the plantar fascia ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot, is one of the most common causes of foot pain that can easily put an athlete off their training regimen.
However, whether they are dominating the field or just going about their daily lives, athletes are always at risk for developing plantar fasciitis, particularly if they engage in these six activities.
Ignoring Muscle Tension
For athletes that suffer from frequent tightness in the Achilles tendon or the calf muscles, and worse yet, ignores it, they put themselves at higher risk for developing plantar fasciitis. Tendons, ligaments and muscles all work together for optimum performance, and when one is tight and overstressed, everything else has to endure the added stress and becomes at risk for injury. For muscle tightness in the foot and lower leg, it is important to treat it with a dynamic stretching routine before athletics, utilize heat therapy, or apply professional massage to the areas.
That standing computer desk may have been a great investment for overall health, but it puts added stress on the foot. However, this doesn't mean that an athlete should abandon standing for long periods of time. The risk to the plantar fascia muscle can be minimized by wearing well-fitted, supportive footwear and incorporating various levels of movement throughout the day as well as at least some periods of seated rest.
Athletes who have abnormal walking patterns, high arches, or are flat-footed all carry with them an increased risk of plantar fasciitis pain. With all these conditions, it affects the way they stand and in turn puts more stress on the ligament. While flat feet and high arches can be treated with proper footwear, abnormal walking patterns, particularly a pronation of the foot, needs to be actively corrected with mindful training.
Athletes who engage in dancing, HIIT workouts, and long-distance or uphill running are all at an increased risk for plantar fasciitis. These types of exercise place more pressure around the heel of the foot and the surrounding tissue. The only preventative measure for those who love these activities is proper stretching beforehand and treatment of pain as soon as it occurs. Ignoring the foot pain will only make plantar fasciitis worse.
Training on Hard Surfaces
Training on hard surfaces such as concrete and non-sprung wood floors heighten the risk of plantar fascia injuries. Even with padded footwear, as you train on these surfaces over time, it becomes a significant stressor on joints and their supporting muscles. If an athlete's sport of choice cannot be done on the padding provided by grass, they should be sure that their training facilities are build for their purpose, such as tennis courts, dance studios, and gymnasiums.
Wearing Poor Footwear
Needless to say, wearing proper shoes is key to preventing this painful and often persistent injury. This means changing out shoes as soon as they begin to wear down, wearing proper supportive inserts for pre-existing foot conditions, and wearing sports shoes that fit properly. Unfortunately, female athletes that go from wearing high heels to flat sports shoes are have extra risk of a plantar fascia tear.
Already suffering from plantar fasciitis? By identifying where your increased risk comes from, it can help to prevent it from happening again, but in the meantime contact us. Our special PFTape is formulated to help heal and ease the pain of plantar fasciitis so you can get back in the game.