The first time I ever heard about plantar fasciitis was watching football. Yes, I’ll admit, I’m a NY Giants fan. And not only that, but I was a pretty avid supporter of Plaxico Burress. That is, until he shot himself in the leg. (Don’t know what I’m talking about, read up on this article.)
But before that, he had other self inflicted pain. When he was suffering from plantar fasciitis, I started to do a bit of research myself. At first I got some general information, and I thought that you could just “man up” and fight through it. But in doing some more digging I found that it really isn’t that easy and that good work boots are essential.
- 1 What is Plantar Fasciitis?
- 2 What increases your risk?
- 3 What about good work boots?
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
First off, the plantar fascia is the ligament connecting the heel bone to the toes. Essential to supporting the arch of the foot — pretty much a natural shock absorber — when strained the plantar fascia will weaken, swell, and become inflamed. As a result, you will feel pains in your heel or the bottom of your foot.
In fact, plantar fasciitis is the most common reason for heel pain. Sorry for the bad news, but about 10% of people get plantar fasciitis in their lifetime. And it is not just athletes…
What increases your risk?
There are some key risk factors for plantar fasciitis.
- Age: Typically between 40-60 years old. I know we wish we could turn back time.
- Obesity: Almost 70% of people who have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis are overweight. Not Plaxico though. The man is a twig. He was definitely in the lower 30% range.
- Work Environment: Those who are constantly on their feet all day, like us Boots Over Suits guys, are at great risk. Especially if you are standing on hard floors for extended periods.
- Strenuous Exercise: Activities like running can put stress on your plantar fascia.
- Foot mechanics: If you have a high arch in the foot, are flat footed or just walk awkwardly.
- Poor Footwear: Yup. Wearing the wrong size, uncomfortable, or torn up boots.
How do you know if you have Plantar Fasciitis?
Most commonly, plantar fasciitis is associated with heel pain experienced when you first stand in the morningor after resting for an extended period of time. While some describe the pain as dull, others can experience sharp shooting pains as well.
However, there are numerous other injuries that can result in the same symptoms. So, there isn’t a real surefire way to know without seeing the doctor.
Basically, the doc will prod around a bit determining if the pain is occurring in the plantar fascia. Not only that, but tests such as MRIs and X-Rays can be run to ensure that your pain isn’t the result of a broken bone in the foot.
And if it is determined that you have plantar fasciitis…
At home tips for plantar fasciitis
Trust me, I’m not going to sit here and tell you to get younger, lose weight, change jobs, stop running, or switch up your walking style. That being said, I do have some easy to follow at home treatments.
Whether you already have plantar fasciitis or just want to prevent it, it is important to remember that the more stress you remove from your foot the better. So, what can you do?
- Rest: Take a load off after you long day’s work. You need to allow time for your foot to recover from the daily grind. Just a warning, once you stand back up you will likely notice some immediate pain. Especially if you were really in action all day.
- Stretch: Don’t worry, yoga isn’t involved. Try and stretch your calf and toes each morning before starting the day. Need some inspiration? Check out Foot Stretches to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis.
- Ice it: Nothing better for inflammation than icing the problem area. Try and massage the foot with ice in 3 minute intervals.
Although plantar fasciitis can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to go away, these remedies mentioned will help accelerate that time.
What about good work boots?
No doubt, the right pair of boots can make all the difference in preventing or recovering from this heel pain. And there are some quick ways to tell if you aren’t properly equipped. Just ask yourself these questions:
- Do your boots look like Cujo chewed on them?
- Are your boots too small or too big?
- Is the heel a bit on the high side?
- Does the insole lack a nice cushion?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you have the wrong boots.
So, there are some simple characteristics of the best plantar fasciitis work boot.
- Boots with laces: Helps to keep your shoes well fastened, versus wearing slip on or zip up boots. The plantar fascia loses support when your feet slip from your boots while walking. And boots with laces prevents that from happening.
- Lower profile heels: Choosing a medium heel will elevate the arch and reduce stress on the plantar fascia. Boots with higher heels increase the level of tension on the foot.
- Cushioned insole: To help absorb some shock caused by putting weight on your arch all day, look to get a boot that gives a little in the insole.
- Good arch: Flat shoes typically don’t support your arch and can disrupt the plantar fascia.
While these are the best qualities to look for when buying new boots, maybe you just don’t want to spend the money on a new pair. And there are options for that too.
Foot orthoses: The quick, but best, fix for plantar fasciitis
Yea the name is pretty technical, but foot orthoses are just insoles. Although it will still cost some money, I have a stat that will make it seem like a drop in the bucket.
According to R.E. Arendse, a researcher at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa and the University of Cape Town, “75.5% of injured runners are successfully treated with the prescription of insoles for plantar fasciitis.”
Now you may be thinking, I’m not a runner and what does that have to do with plantar fasciitis? Well, although you may not be a runner, one of the most common running injuries is plantar fasciitis. So the fact that runners can realize such great results with the proper insole likely means that you will have similar success too.
So the best option is to simply replace your insoles, versus going out and buying a complete new pair of boots. That is, of course, considering that your boots seriously don’t look like they’ve been chewed on by Cujo.
Wondering what to look for?
Either get a pair of heel cups or whole boot insoles. Probably the best option are the semi rigid arch support insoles, as they help reduce excessive pronation.
But what the heck is pronation? Another one of these words that boot brands or doctors toss around. It is simply the way your foot rolls inward when walking or running. Excessive pronation can lead to plantar fasciitis.
To make it easy for you, I have a couple of links to direct you to some of the best insoles for plantar fasciitis on the market.
- Semi-Rigid Orthotic
- Heel Cups
Regardless if you are preventing or already living with plantar fasciitis, just make sure that you put the cups or insoles in both boots. It would just be a shame if you got the same pain in the other foot because you neglected it too.
It’s a wrap on plantar fasciitis
At Boots Over Suits, we want to make sure that you stay on top of your game in your trade. To do that, you not only have to keep up with the daily grind but you have to take care of yourself.
I know, we like to go full steam ahead, especially when we start to see more contracts coming in. (And it seems like business is turning up in 2014.) But the bottom line is that we aren’t going to keep those paychecks rolling in if we get sidelined by preventable injuries.
And something like plantar fasciitis can really put the brakes on our success. While this is just one of many types of injuries that we can sustain from choosing a Boots Over Suits type of job, it is for sure always important to consider how to protect yourself.
As always, we would like to hear from you. How have you managed to get through a bout with plantar fasciitis and what other recommendations do you have?