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Stand and Deliver
You wake up in the morning, fully rested, swing your legs out of bed and stand up. Then the pain in your heel cripples you, recoiling you back onto the bed. You’re not alone. People of all ages and fitness levels can fall victim to plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the fascia, a band of tissue that extends from the heel to the toes.
You’ll know when you have it: Common symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Pain on the bottom of the heel
- Pain in the arch of the foot
- Pain that is worse upon rising in the morning or after long periods of sitting
- Pain that increases over a period of months
Most commonly, people who are starting a new sport – or pushing too hard in one – are primed for plantar fasciitis. If you stand on concrete for long periods, have tight calf muscles, wear improper footwear without support or cushioning, or have flat feet, you may also fall victim to the pain.
While an official diagnosis can only come from a doctor, you can begin to treat the syndrome on your own at home.
Most people find that the pain subsides after walking for a few minutes. That’s because walking stretches the fascia. Other immediate ways of reducing the pain include:
Stretching: Look for exercises that stretch out the calf muscles which will ultimately help your fascia recover.
Wear shoes all the time: Especially avoid going barefoot, which puts strain and stress on your plantar fascia.
Ice it: Place an ice pack on your heel for 20 minutes several times a day to reduce inflammation.
Limit your activities: Let your heel rest.
Change your shoes: Switch to supportive shoes with good arch support and a slightly raised/cushioned heel reduces stress on the plantar fascia.
Meds: Try regular doses of oral anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation.
Temporary relief isn’t a cure, so while your heel heals, focus on long-term changes that reduce the likelihood of the pain returning.
- Stretch and strengthen calf muscles regularly.
- Stand facing a wall. Step your sore foot back and keep the heel down. Now lean forward, bracing yourself with your hands on the wall, until you feel a comfortable pull in your calf. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat.
- Stretch your arch regularly.
- Cross your leg over your other knee. Now gently press your big toe back toward the top of your foot. Hold for a few seconds, then repeat with the other foot.
- Change from running/jogging/walking to biking or swimming. If you can’t change sports, change the shoes you wear for it. Add heel cushions, orthotics prescribed by a doctor or other insole solutions.
- Talk to your doctor or foot specialist if the pain persists. You may need to reduce the inflammation and relieve the pain with a corticosteroid injection.
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