Plantar fasciitis is a condition of the foot where the thick band of connective tissue on the bottom of the foot becomes inflamed and painful. This band connects your calcaneus, or heel bone, and your toes. This condition is one of the most common causes of heel pain. So why do we get it? We have to understand the causes of it, if we are to understand why a product such as a shoe insert will be helpful.
What does the plantar fascia do?
This band of connective tissue/ligament helps to support the arch of your foot. With every step you take, the plantar fascia stretches and supports maintaining proper aligment, yet allowing movement. This band is very thick and strong as it bears the weight of your body with each step. If your plantar fascia is healthy and not irritated, you should not feel it, unless you purposely stretch it.
How does the plantar fascia become irritated?
A key sign of an inflamed plantar fascia is pain in the heel when you take your first step in the morning. As I mentioned before, this is the most common cause of heel pain. If you press into the bottom of your foot, you will most likely feel pain or tenderness along this band and possibly nodules (which can be scar tissue formation).
There can be several causes of plantar fasciitis.
1. Poor fitting shoes. I have personally had plantar fasciitis about 10 years ago, and I started experiencing heel pain after I got a new pair of Nike’s to run in. At the time I was running about 5.5 miles per day through Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania. Probably my favorite running loop I’ve ever had, as I would run through herds of deer that didn’t seem to care that I was there. But those Nike’s were too narrow for my feet. This was in the days before I was a Chiropractor, so I didn’t quite understand that. Unfortunately for my tootsies, the shoes didn’t fit well and my feet were not able to flex and support the way they are meant to. And then my plantar fascia freaked out. I remedied the problem by replacing the store inserts with a custom pair of orthotics and my pain went away for good. But if you have a pair of shoes that do not fit properly, beware… there are consequences! I recommend a new well fitting pair, and a pair of inserts. Double whammy. I’ll talk about it shortly, but my cousin who also tried out Heel That Pain’s heel seats had this same issue with shoes.
2. Flat feet or high arches. Some people are born with more flat or higher arches in their feet. This isn’t necessarily a cause, just that with this particular anatomy plantar fasciitis seems to be more prevalent. If this is the case for you, it would be very helpful to have proper fitting shoes and wear inserts to support your arch.
3. Being overweight. This also is not a cause, but if you are overweight it adds more strain to the bottom to your feet as you walk. Losing weight can help and if you are overweight it is important to have proper arch support with well fitting shoes and inserts!
4. Prolonged standing. Many jobs require us to stand for long amounts of time. My first job ever was as a parking girl in the Hershey’s Chocolate World Visitors Center parking lot and I used to stand for an 8 hour shift. Whoa. Talk about tired feet, especially after a day in the sun (as we didn’t have much cover). I had probably the worst farmer’s tan ever. If this is something you do and you do not have strong feet, wear poor fitting shoes, and do not have inserts, you are absolutely prone to getting plantar fasciitis.
5. Weak feet. Yes your feet can be stronger. In between some of those bones, there are muscles. And those muscles (and those that start outside the foot and travel in) help us to grip with our toes, support our arches, and to walk. The biggest point here is that strong feet muscles helps to support our arches and the way our feet move. If those arches aren’t support… we come back to plantar fasciitis. If you want to read more about how important strong feet are and how to strengthen them, read my article on it here.
How do you fix plantar fasciitis?
1. Stretch and roll the plantar fascia. You can use a rolling pin, a frozen water bottle, or a golf ball. Put your chosen item on the floor with your foot on top and begin rolling. You want to apply some pressure so that it is tender (not painful) and begin rolling your foot over the item. The purpose of this is to stretch our the fascia and help break up any scar tissue.
2. Get better fitting shoes. If your shoes do not fit well…. this is an absolute MUST! If your shoes do not fit well and are contributing to your foot pain… you need new, proper fitting shoes. Period. There are tons of sneaker shops that will personally fit you, such as A Snail’s Pace (note this shop is in California, but Google can help).
3. Get shoe inserts/custom orthotics. This is where Heel That Pain heel seats come in. If you have plantar fasciitis, or have any of the above things that may put you at risk for developing it, I would highly suggest a shoe insert. You can have them custom made at your doctor’s office (many chiropractors provide this service) or you can purchase a pair online or in a store. Heel That Pain offers several options on their website. I highly recommend utilizing shoe inserts as they will make a world of difference. I wear mine EVERY day. I would be bummed if I didn’t have them in my shoes.
4. Stretch your calves. Most times people with plantar fasciitis also have TIGHT calves. So what do we do about this? STRETCH them! Easy peasy 🙂
5. Be anti-inflammatory. Any time we have irritation in our body… and most of us do. It is a good practice to avoid things that also cause inflammation. This would include eliminating food allergens, processed foods, chemical preservatives, pesticides, cooking with vegetables oils and excessive sugar. This would also include ADDING in things such as unrefined coconut oil, raw extra virgin olive oil, turmeric and black pepper together, organic vegetables and fruits, ocean caught fish, and anti-inflammatory (and curcumin) and omega 3 supplements. These above recommendations are just great in general.. so do it!
6. Strengthen your feet. Do feet exercises! One of the best way to exercise your feet is to walk around barefoot. I know this can be hard as we live in areas with asphalt and dirt. But find a patch of grass and go walk around. Go down to the beach, if you live near one, and walk around barefoot. Your arches will thank you.
Note: Pain in the heel that replicates plantar fasciitis can also be caused by a lumbar radiculopathy, which is inflammation of a spinal nerve root in your lower back. If this is the case, traditional treatment of plantar fasciitis will not help.
Heel That Pain Shoe Inserts: How they stand up to the test
In order to properly assess this product, I wore the inserts for two weeks and then because I do not currently have plantar fasciitis, I sent them to my cousin Jaime who currently has had the problem for several years.
I wore the Heel That Pain heel seats in my sneakers and in my tall boots with no heels. I already have custom orthotics that I use in my sneakers, so I had those as a comparison. I ran in the orthotics and stood for long amounts of time.
In my sneakers, the heel seats felt way more comfortable that my current orthotics, which are Foot Levelers. I attribute this to the shape of the insert and especially the material. The blue material is very supportive yet cushiony (is that a word). If you are a person who either pronates or supinates (foot rolls one way or the other while walking), the way the insert is made would help correct that incorrect foot motion. This is a very important correction as pronation or supination can cause many problems from the feet up into the back. I could also tell that the horizontal raise in the middle of the insert provides good support for the arche, not allowing the arch to drop too low and aggravate the plantar fascia.
In my boots, I had to stand for a long amount of time and I did notice that my feet did not get as tired as they normally would. My boots normally provide no arch support for my feet, and with long amounts of standing my feet would become tired. With the heel seats my feet did not tire.
Lastly, let’s talk about my cousin Jaime. She works at the post office and stands for long hours. Check. She was wearing shoes that were too small for her. (Her shoes were too small because after having her two wonderful baby boys, her feet grew, as is common. But she was reluctant to think she had bigger feet and to give up her shoe collection.) Check.
For the last 15 years, I have worked as a clerk for the Postal Service. My job requires me to walk and stand on a concrete surface for long periods of time. I work 6 days a week, so getting off my feet isn’t really an option. I purchase new sneakers every 3 or 4 months or so to try and reduce the strain on my feet.
About 7 years ago, I was pregnant with my 1st child. I gained about 45 pounds with that pregnancy which put more strain on my feet. Towards the end of my pregnancy I developed an excruciating pain in my left heel. It felt like I was walking on a large stone in my shoe. I attributed the pain to my weight gain and just dealt with it the best I could. I worked until I gave birth, and hoped that the pain would go away. While I was off on maternity leave, my foot pain started to diminish, and I didn’t really give it a second thought. I went back to work after 12 weeks, and soon after the pain returned, but in both feet this time. I purchased new sneakers, but in a bigger size. Before my pregnancy, I wore a 7 1/2 to 8, after I gave birth I wore a 8 1/2 to 9.
After a lot of nagging from my family, I finally made an appointment with a foot doctor to find out exactly what was going on with my feet. He diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis, and gave me a prescription for steroids. That helped for a little while. At my next appointment the pain was back, and I received my first cortisone shot and another round of steroids. By my next appointment, my right foot was feeling better, but my left foot was unbearable. I received two subsequent shots of cortisone in my left foot. The shots helped for a little while, but ultimately wore off.
I have not been back to the foot doctor since then, but I have tried to treat my plantar fasciitis myself. I do multiple stretches and exercises on a daily basis, I purchased a boot for sleeping, a walking boot, and inserts for my sneakers. I was a die hard Nike girl, but I have realized that this brand does little in terms of cushion for standing. I have broadened my tastes for brands, and now I try on every brand out there to try and find the best feeling shoes for me.
The Heel That Pain inserts have helped extend the time I can be on my feet. During the first week of full use, I did not notice the pain in my feet for the first three days. Towards the end of the week, my feet got more tired with some pain. With rest over the weekend, I usually return towards normal. Nothing takes away the pain altogether, but these inserts help me get through my day with less pain. Until I find a new job, that’s all I can really ask for. Thanks Heel That Pain! – Jaime
As you can see, healing plantar fasciitis is best done with a multi-faceted treatment approach. Combine the above approaches to get the best results, and you’ll beat this beast. God speed.
Disclaimer: I am not an affiliate for Heel That Pain, nor do I receive any monetary compensation for my opinion. I just wanna help you!