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What Athletes Should Know About Plantar Fasciitis

What Athletes Should Know About Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a common overuse injury that plagues athletes. While it can affect any athlete in any sport, and even non-athletes it’s most likely to affect runners. In fact, plantar fasciitis is commonly referred to as “runner’s heel.” It causes a sharp pain in the heel and sometimes the arch of the foot.

As a foot and ankle specialist, David Biss, DPM, routinely sees athletes with heel pain at Concord Podiatry in Concord and Plymouth, New Hampshire. If you have heel pain that doesn’t go away, or seems to resolve only to return, it’s time to get it checked out. Dr. Biss can diagnose the source of your pain and recommend effective treatment so you can get back to performing your best in your sport. 

Why does my heel hurt?

The plantar fascia is a thick band of fibrous tissue on the underside of your foot that extends from the inside edge of your heel to your toes. It acts as a shock absorber as well as a support for your arch. 

When the plantar fascia is overloaded, pain and discomfort can occur anywhere along its length, but it most typically occurs where the tendon connects to the inside edge of the heel. 

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis in athletes

The heel plays a key role in buffering stress when you walk and run, so you can expect problems of the plantar fascia to make themselves known when you’re playing sports. In athletes with plantar fasciitis, pain is usually felt on the heel and is usually worse in the mornings when you take your first step. 

For most athletes, the pain often improves with movement but tends to return after periods of inactivity. 

Getting to the bottom of your plantar fasciitis

The type of surface you play sports on, the structure of your foot, and the type of footwear you use are major factors in developing plantar fasciitis. Athletes with flat arches are more prone to foot and ankle problems like plantar fasciitis. 

Dr. Biss examines your feet to determine whether the structure of your feet is a contributing factor. When this is the case, custom orthotics are very helpful in alleviating discomfort and preventing plantar fasciitis. 

If your shoes lack proper support, Dr. Biss can recommend shoes that balance your weight when you’re walking, running, and playing sports. Wearing the right type of shoes for your sport and foot structure can make a big difference. Once Dr. Biss gets to the root of your plantar fasciitis, he can get you on the path to feeling and performing better in your sport. 

3 tips to ease plantar fasciitis

The following tips can help you manage plantar fasciitis until you can come in to have your heel pain evaluated. 

Always warm up first

No matter how long you’ve participated in your sport, it’s still important to warm up first. Warming up before you hit the field eases your muscles into activity and reduces the risk of injuries and pain from plantar fasciitis.

Use a foot roller

A foot roller is a portable, lightweight massage tool that you can stash in your gym bag. To relieve plantar fasciitis pain, simply roll your heel over the tool back and forth. Do this for about five minutes to loosen the tissue, ease inflammation, and reduce pain. 

Practice tendon loading

The plantar fascia, like all tendons, requires loading with particular activities. Loading the tendon while extending it helps alleviate plantar fasciitis. The downward movement of calf raises is an example of this, and you can try it during your warmup to curb pain.

Schedule a visit with a specialist

Seeing a podiatrist is the right choice when faced with plantar fasciitis. The sooner you get an evaluation, the sooner you can start feeling and performing better. It’s always best to get checked out promptly instead of waiting. 

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our office if you’re experiencing heel pain or any issues with your feet or ankles. We’re just a phone call away and ready to help. To schedule a visit with Dr. Biss, call the office convenient to you to speak with one of our friendly team members.

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