Avoid Plantar Fasciitis Flare-ups with These 4 Tips

Roller Derby and Plantar Fasciitis

Raquel, or “Chaos,” as her teammates call her, suffers from plantar fasciitis.

In a musty old brick warehouse in the industrial side of town, Raquel yanks her wrist guards over her hands and straps her helmet under her chin. She bends over to lace up her skates, anxiously chomping on the corners of her mouth guard.

“Roller derby is a full-contact sport. We wear our protective gear when we’re on skates, and that keeps us injury-free,” she said with a smirk. “For the most part.”

Raquel, or “Chaos,” as her teammates call her, is one of the larger women on her team, but her size doesn’t slow her down. She pushes off towards the track and swoops into a pace line, deftly weaving and dipping around the other skaters. She delivers a solid hip-check, sending another skater skidding into the center of the track.

But before Raquel can even finish her warm-up, she’s back on the sidelines, removing her skates and massaging the soles of her feet.

“I’ve been dealing with plantar fasciitis for about a month now,” she says. “Once I warm up, I’m good. But until then, the pain is just killer. It takes away from practice time, and it’s not fair to the team.”

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain in adults. It’s a type of tendinitis that affects the plantar fascia – the thick band of tissue connecting your heel to the ball of your foot.

A healthy plantar fascia is like a springy bowstring. It’s instrumental to walking and running, acting as a shock absorber when you make contact with the ground.

But when the fascia gets strained or overused, it can develop tiny tears, and if it doesn’t have adequate time to rest and heal, the fascia can become inflamed. This causes a sharp, stabbing pain in the heel, especially after long periods of rest.

The pain of plantar fasciitis is often excruciating

Intense flare-ups of plantar fasciitis pain can be debilitating. They’re most common in the morning, right after getting out of bed. The “microtears” have healed overnight, and the healing process pulls the plantar fascia tight. With those first few steps, your body weight puts strain on the ligament, ripping fresh tears into the inflamed tissue.

plantar fasciitis and heel pain

Heel pain from plantar fasciitis flare-ups can be debilitating.

But the pain can flare up at any time of day, after an extended period of sitting or standing, followed by repetitive or vigorous activity. For Raquel, who leaves her desk job for roller derby practice three nights a week, this means she experiences the worst of her condition during warm ups, while she’s muscling through her first laps.

How to avoid flare-ups of plantar fasciitis

1. Get some rest. Unlike a sprained ankle or a broken bone, plantar fasciitis is not an acute injury. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat it like one. Your fascia needs rest in order to heal. “Give yourself a break from your normal exercise routine for just a few days,” says Dr. Bob Baravarian, podiatric surgeon at the L.A.-based University Foot and Ankle Institute. “Even minor injuries can turn major if you irritate the area over and over again.”

2. Ease into new activities. If you’re just starting to learn a new sport or physical activity, take it easy. You should alternate between the new activity and the old routine while your body adjusts gradually to the new demands you’re putting on it.

3. Choose the right shoes for plantar fasciitis. The wrong shoes for your feet can cause or exacerbate plantar fasciitis pain. “Active footwear should have flexible soles, and provide plenty of support to the arch,” said Baravarian. This helps to more evenly distribute your weight across the bottom of the shoe, mitigating the impact of shock to your inflamed fascia.

4. Orthotic inserts are a great and totally non-invasive option for people looking to treat plantar fasciitis. Inserts provide extra padding for heel comfort and bolster the arch to prevent collapse. They can slip into your work shoes, running shoes, or even a pair of roller skates. There are basically two types of orthotic inserts:

Over the Counter Inserts
These can be purchased at many drug store and of course on-line. For the most part they are one-size fits all, though some have moderate types of “customization” based on where your foot strikes the ground first or whether you have a pronation. There also come in several sizes to fit your shoes.

custom orthotics for bunions, bunion treatment

Orthotics provide extra padding for heel comfort and bolster the arch to prevent collapse.

Custom Orthotics Inserts
But if you have insurance and/or can afford to get a professional opinion, your foot and ankle specialist can fit you with custom orthotics made just for your feet. When prescribed as a treatment for plantar fasciitis, custom orthotics inserts are generally a lot more effective in helping with a myriad of foot conditions. They are also covered by most insurance plans which helps a lot. Custom orthotics can go a long way towards ensuring your long-term foot health.

If you are experiencing problems with plantar fasciitis, the doctors at University Foot and Ankle Institute are here to help. Our nationally recognized podiatrists and foot and ankle specialists offer the most advanced foot and ankle care along with the highest success rates in the nation. We are leaders in the field of research and treatment of all foot and ankle conditions.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (877) 736-6001 or visit us at www.footankleinstitute.com.

Dr. Bob Baravarian and the UFAI Education Team

Dr. Bob Baravarian and the UFAI Education Team

For almost fifteen years, University Foot and Ankle Institute and their nationally recognized physicians have been providing the most technologically advanced medical care for the foot and ankle with the highest success rates in the country.

As a teaching institution, University Foot and Ankle Institute’s Fellowship Program is among the most advanced in the nation.

We at UFAI are driven to get our patients back to their normal activities with the highest level of function, in the least amount of time, using the least invasive treatments possible. From start to finish, we are with you every step of the way.

The UFAI Education Team works to help empower our patients and website visitors with the most up-to-date information about foot and ankle conditions, treatment options, recovery and injury prevention. Our goal is to pass on truly useful information to our readers.

We hope you enjoy our work and find it of value. Please let us know!
Dr. Bob Baravarian and the UFAI Education Team

6 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this useful information. Our patients appreciate your insights.

  2. Bethany Birchridge

    I had no idea that plantar fasciitis was a type of tendinitis. I’ve bee having really bad heel pain, so I’ll be sure to try out these tips.

  3. I have had it for 1-1/2 years and it is no better. I am 63, not over weight, high arch, not a runner, golf once a week and parctic once a week. Use custom inserts, used Brooks running shoes and now Hoka Bondi 5 shoes. Used night splint for 6 months. Stretch calf muscles several times per day for 3 minutes per stretch. Do toe-pull stretch multiple times per day. Usually ice in evening and after golf. Cores one shot lasted 6 months and pain came back. Any suggestions? Time for shock wave therapy?

    • Scott,

      So sorry to read about your issues, that is not fun as I suffered like you did for some time. Luckily, it seems my case was not as tough as yours since PT, orthotics, stretches, ice and one shot and a coupe weeks in a boot did the trick. Oh, and I went the Hoka route too, which are great shoes for me.

      We cannot give advice to folks who are not patients. This is not really us protecting our butts, but without seeing someone and reviewing everything, it is impossible to know what the heck would be your best next course of action.

      You need to find a doctor with the experience who has your trust to guide you. If you are not near us, and you need help finding someone, there is a chance we may know someone good near you. So let me know if I can help that way.

      I hope this helps somewhat but stay strong and do not stop looking for a solution. You are your own best advocate and it seems like you are not giving up, which is awesome.

      Be well!

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