Written by Alex Clark, in-house physiotherapist at Neo G

If you’re a runner it’s likely you’ll be familiar with Plantar Fasciitis, a painful condition which results in a deep ache or sharp stabbing pain in the heel or along the arch of your foot. However, it’s not just runners or those on their feet for large portions of the day that run the risk of developing Plantar Fasciitis – if you have a problems with your feet such as high arches or flat feet, you could be at risk of developing this common and painful condition.

The Plantar Fascia is a ligament that connects your heel to your toes, supporting the arch of your foot. These ligaments bear the brunt of your weight when you’re walking or running around, and as a result they can experience a lot of stress in everyday life. This can damage or tear the ligaments, leading to inflammation that can cause pain and stiffness along the arch of the foot and in the heel. You might find that the pain is worse in the morning when you first wake up, or after a burst of activity, such as a workout.

It can be a debilitating condition, but luckily there are things you can do to lower your risk and alleviate symptoms. Here are some of my top tips.

Get the right foot support

Whether you’re a keen runner or are just prone to foot problems, making sure you have adequate support for your feet is key. If you’re doing a lot of running, make sure you get the right shoes to ensure your feet are properly supported. I’d recommend going to a shop that specialises in running footwear – you’re going to be putting in a lot of miles in these shoes so it’s important your feet are supported throughout! It’s also important to replace your shoes every 300 – 500 miles – just as you would do with car tyres.

Both runners and those with foot problems such as fallen arches can also benefit from using insoles to get extra support. These will help support the arch, stabilising feet and reducing some of the stress on the Plantar Fascia during daily activity. Neo G’s NeoThotics range of insoles integrates cushioning with medical grade support to relieve pressure on the feet. Alternatively, try the Plantar Fasciitis everyday support – a sock with integrated silicone heel cup for pressure release and advanced cushioning in every step.

Look at your form

If you’re a runner, take a closer look at your foot pronation – how your foot rolls inward when it strikes the floor. Overpronation, where the foot arches roll inward or downward when running or walking can make you more prone to injuries. An orthotic insole or specialist running shoe can help correct this.

Shortening your stride and increasing your cadence when running – the number of steps you take per minute – can also help. Shorter strides can reduce the impact on your feet and help avoid heel striking, where the heel hits the floor before the rest of the foot, which can lead to excessive stress on this part of the body. Similarly, increasing the number of times your feet hit the ground when running will put less stress on your legs and feet with each foot strike, which could help prevent problems from developing in the first place.

Strengthen and stretch

Whether you’re already starting to experience Plantar Fasciitis symptoms or just want to ensure that you don’t develop it, strengthening and stretching out the muscles in the feet could help. Try the below exercises daily:

  • Sit down and rest the arch of your foot on a round or cylindrical object, for example a drinks can or a tin of beans. Roll the arch in all directions for a few minutes.
  • Looping a towel around the ball of your foot, pull your toes towards your body, keeping your knee straight. Hold for 30-seconds, repeating up to three times on each foot.
  • Sit down and cross your foot over the opposite knee. Take the base of your toes and pull them back until you feel a comfortable stretch. Hold for 20-seconds, repeating up to three times on each foot.

And if you’re still in pain?

While the above tips can help if you’re in the early stages of Plantar Fasciitis or want to take active steps to prevent it developing in the future, if you’re suffering from the symptoms of this condition the best thing to do is to seek advice from a professional. Speak to your GP about being referred to a physiotherapist or podiatrist for further treatment. While Plantar Fasciitis is a difficult and painful condition, there are steps that can be take to address the root cause of the problem. A professional will be able to advise on alternative treatments, such as physical therapy, more advanced orthotics or medication that can help.

For more information about Neo G go to: https://www.neo-g.co.uk/