Plantar fasciitis is one of the major foot injuries for both professional and amateur athletes alike. Here are some useful tips to recover from plantar fasciitis.
- If your friendly neighborhood surgeon says you have heel spurs which need to be removed, beware! It's important to remember that heel spurs themselves do not usually cause heel pain. In a recent study, it was determined that about 21% of the adult population has at least one heel spur (!), yet few of these individuals reported actual heel pain.
- If you are considering having surgery for your plantar fasciitis, consider this: a fairly common surgical treatment for intractable plantar fasciitis is called a 'partial release'. This procedure has recently been linked with a possibly higher risk of stress fracture in the heel during the post-surgical time period. In another study, 41 individuals who failed to respond to non-operative treatment for plantar fasciitis underwent partial plantar-fascia releases. The average duration of plantar fasciitis before surgery was 35 months, with a range of 12 to 132 (!) months of discomfort. Post-surgery follow-up lasted an average of 2.5 years, and about 75% of the patients achieved pain-free status during this time (about 90% had experienced 'severe' pain prior to surgery). This study did suffer from an important shortcoming: there was no control group. In addition, despite the apparently high success rate, only 49% of the subjects were satisfied with the outcomes of their surgeries ('Plantar Fasciitis: How Successful Is Surgical Intervention?' Foot Ankle International, December, vol. 20(12), pp. 803-807, 1999).
- If you have plantar fasciitis, should you (or should you let a doctor) slip orthotics into your shoes? Bear in mind that prescribing orthotics for plantar fasciitis is in effect saying that the key problem which produces plantar fasciitis must be in the feet. This is certainly not true. As we mentioned earlier, tight hamstrings can cause plantar fasciitis, and prescribing orthotics for taut hamstrings is nonsense! You've got to think of your plantar fascia as part of an interactive chain of muscles and connective tissues that runs from your hip down through your toes. If you want to stay away from plantar fasciitis, the whole system must be taken into account - and worked on! In addition, even if your plantar-fasciitis problem is truly the result of 'weak feet', does it make more sense to install appliances under your feet and forget about correcting the weakness - or work diligently on overall foot (and leg) strength?(!)
- Always remember that icing, anti-inflammatories, reduced training, massage, etc. are temporary palliatives for plantar fasciitis. They do not cure the problem! The only true plantar-fasciitis elixir is an increase in the overall resiliency and strength of your legs and feet - so that plantar fasciitis just can't come back.
Plantar fasciitis, like many other foot injuries requires a good amount of attention. Getting the right exercises is key, but these steps mentioned will certainly aid your recovery from plantar fasciitis.