We’ve been in the performance shoe business for over 40 years and have helped many thousands of people get through plantar fasciitis. Not a day goes by without a customer coming in for help, often in severe pain. Sometimes, we help customers who’ve had pain for weeks, months or even years. It’s always a shock to them when they leave the store feeling better! We follow some simple rules when we choose a solution.
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of your foot. If you strain your plantar fascia, it gets weak, swollen, and irritated (inflamed). Then your heel or the bottom of your foot hurts when you stand or walk.
Plantar fasciitis is common in middle-aged people. It also occurs in younger people who are on their feet a lot, like athletes or soldiers. It can happen in one foot or both feet.
Plantar fasciitis is caused by straining the ligament that supports your arch. Repeated strain can cause tiny tears in the ligament. These can lead to pain and swelling
Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel. The pain is usually worst with the first few steps after awakening, although it can also be triggered by long periods of standing or getting up from a seated position. It can also be felt as a pain in the arch area of your foot. You should visit your health care provider to know for sure- he or she will listen to you describe the pain, press on your foot, and probably x-ray to rule out other possibilities, such as stress fractures or stress reactions.
Heel pads, ice, stretching, orthotics, night splints and NSAIDs are typically recommended to relieve the painful symptoms. We’ve found that we can often relieve plantar fasciitis pain in 1-14 days by having our customers do 4 things:
1. Get an orthotic immediately. The over-the-counter orthotic needs to cushion and elevate the heel & provide firm arch support. If you can bend it in the middle, then it’s probably not going to fix your problem. In general, we recommend Superfeet insoles. Based on our experience over the years, these are the best on the market. The price will vary from $30-$55 depending upon which style works best for your footwear.
2. If you can, buy some traditional, stability running shoes with a 12-13mm drop. We understand that not everyone can purchase a new pair of shoes, since the average price is around $120. Still, in a perfect world, the fastest way to become pain-free is to use the new orthotic in a pair of stability running shoes. Stability shoes will be stiff from the heel to the forefoot area, and they’ll support your arch when your foot flexes and begins to pronate during your gait cycle. We say ‘traditional’ because modern running shoes have varying heel heights, anywhere from 0-13mm higher in the heel than in the forefoot. There are stability shoes with a lower heel height, so make sure that you select a stability running shoe with a more traditional 12-13mm heel-to-toe height difference (that difference is sometimes called a ‘drop’).
3. Get a night splint. This is a brace with a soft, sock-like upper and a firm footbed that adjusts to place your foot in a dorsiflexed position, thereby stretching the plantar fascia tendons and helping to reduce pain. Modern soft splints/night splints are comfortable and easy to use and sleep while wearing.
4. Now the hard part!
- Do not go barefoot at all
- Do not wear flip-flops
- Do not wear flats
Most of us want a fast fix, and this solution: insole + shoe + soft splint is probably the absolute best solution possible without visiting your podiatrist. Unfortunately, there are times when even this solution won’t help. Approximately 1/20 people with plantar fasciitis will need surgery to overcome the condition, according to WebMD.