If you are curious how to prevent heel pain, you likely have a friend or family member who has had it in the past OR you have experienced heel pain that you wish never to deal with again! Prevention truly is key for plantar fasciitis.
Stretching before and after activity to keep the Achilles tendon loose helps to prevent compensation in the way the foot functions and can decrease the chances of getting inflammation in the plantar fascia.
Addressing poor biomechanics is a huge factor in preventing plantar fasciitis. Whether your foot over pronates (turns out) or over supinates (turns in) you are at a heightened risk of developing plantar fasciitis. Supportive athletic shoes have the ability to prevent your feet from working overtime with every day activities. Often a person comes in for an appointment and in discussion we find that the shoes they wear on a daily basis do not have adequate support, or perhaps did in the past, but have since worn out. If your shoes are old and worn out, try a new pair and minimize use of unhealthy shoes such as ballet flats, flip flops and high heels.
Having a gait analysis and full foot exam allows your doctor to identify your risk factors and cater a plan to you for prevention. In nearly all cases of resolved plantar fasciitis, custom inserts for the shoes are required to correct the position of your foot as it functions. Over-the-counter inserts are available, but those most accessible (at Target, Walgreens, Walmart, even many running stores) do not provide the required correction or support. In addition, selecting a pair of inserts while not understanding what you may be trying to correct can cause increased pain or new problems.
If you start to develop heel pain, prevention is still key! Yes, once you have heel pain you still have the ability to prevent it from becoming a chronic issue. Starting to stretch and ice, evaluating your shoes for excessive wear and relying on supportive athletic shoes for a week can help your heel pain to not worsen and may even help it to go away before it is a real problem. If your heel pain is stubborn (lasting more than 1 week or worsening over the course of a week), get in to see your foot doctor! Don’t let heel pain drag on, as the longer you have it, the longer it takes to go away.