Pain and setbacks like plantar fasciitis can slow down your exercise goals, but a dedicated recovery plan can get you back on track quickly.
If you’re accustomed to setting new year’s resolutions, you know that there are several things that can get in the way of achieving those goals—including pain or setbacks when exercising such as sprains, strains, or even more specific injuries or sharp pain like plantar fasciitis.
Exercise-related goals are often among the most common New Year’s resolutions. Finding the motivation to get a workout routine started is one thing, but keeping yourself healthy and pain-free to continue to find success in those workouts is another. However, avoiding injury is often easier said than done. Unfortunately, injuries of some kind are inevitable. Once an injury happens, do what you can to get back on track with your goals as quickly—but safely—as you can. Don’t let pain or immobility as a result of an injury hold you back for long!
If pain lingers and becomes chronic, it’s recommended to see a doctor about the injury. However, several types of exercise-related pain can be treated by the individual. For instance, a common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. While it can be caused by standing on your feet a majority of the day, like when working in construction, plantar fasciitis can also result from workouts, especially if you’re wearing unsupportive shoes or if you have an unusual foot strike on the ground. Certain types of exercise also give way more to plantar fasciitis, such as running or dancing, as can the way your feet are built or the way you walk, according to Mayo Clinic1.
A key indicator that you’re experiencing plantar fasciitis is how the pain occurs. If it’s first thing when you wake up and start walking or upon standing after a long period of inactivity, plantar fasciitis could be the culprit. Typically, your foot will hurt for a few steps before the pain backs down. But don’t think that because the pain went away, so did the problem. It can flare up again on and off when you go between sitting and standing. The pain is a result of microtears in the tissue of your feet which cause inflammation.
A common process often recommended for injury is easily remembered by the acronym R.I.C.E.—rest, ice, compress, elevate. Whether it’s foot pain through plantar fasciitis, elbow pain through tennis elbow, or any other minor exercise injury, this can be a good starting point for healing.
- Rest: Since walking can cause plantar fasciitis pain in the first place, this is an important first step. Allowing the injury to rest gives the body time to help itself heal.
- Ice: Plantar fasciitis is caused by microtears in the tissue that get inflamed. Inflammation decreases through icing. Since it’s hard to rest your feet for long period of time—aside from sleeping overnight—icing in lengths of 15-20 minutes at a time for a few days helps reduce the inflammation.
- Compress: Compression can help reduce swelling as well as providing support when it’s necessary to use the injured area—in this case, when you need to walk.
- Elevate: Keeping the foot up higher than heart level can help minimize swelling in the area. Rest your foot on pillows for comfort.
While rest, ice, and elevation are important to prevent the injury from getting worse and to help it heal, compression is used while you’re getting back to action. Extensive exercise that places a lot of undue pressure on the foot is not recommended when healing from plantar fasciitis, but the compression will help get you back up and moving. However, don’t let the pain get you down for long. While painful to experience, plantar fasciitis doesn’t necessarily require surgery or other in-depth treatment. Plantar fasciitis treatment, in addition to adhering to the R.I.C.E. method above, can include stretching as well as modifying activities that cause pain.
- Modifying exercise activity can help you keep up with your workout goals by allowing you to continue to get workouts in.
- If you were running before plantar fasciitis pain, turn to lower impact works such as swimming or stationary cycling in the interim. These types of workouts put much less stress on your feet and give the plantar fascia the time it needs to heal properly.2
- Stretch your muscles! Plantar fasciitis can start with calf muscle tension, so make sure to do plenty of stretching of your feet, Achilles tendons, and calves before and during workouts.
- Use a compression wrap or support strap when you have pain but need to walk. It will help reduce swelling and enhance blood flow while providing some relief.
Compression wraps help with shock absorption when you walk. Since a plantar fasciitis injury takes longer to heal because you still need to use your feet to walk, wearing a compression wrap can help by reducing shock during a foot strike. It also helps maintain alignment of the bones.
Pain or injuries that start out small can blossom into bigger problems, and pain that lasts for more than three months—even despite treatments—is considered chronic. Plantar fasciitis can temporarily slow down your exercise goals because it makes the simple movement of walking painful. Exacerbated by the fact that you’re not often able to stay off your feet for long periods of time—outside of sleeping at night—it can feel like a difficult pain to work through. While we always recommend talking to your doctor about any serious injury, these are some small steps you can take to accelerate your healing and get you back to your New Year’s resolution in no time.
- Mayo Clinic: Plantar fasciitis
- Healthline: Plantar Fasciitis