What Are the Best Shoes for Prevention and Care Of Plantar Fasciitis?
At Apache Foot & Ankle Specialists, we see 10-20 new cases of Plantar Fasciitis per week. What is Plantar Fasciitis? The Plantar Fascia is a long ligament that runs the entire bottom (plantar) aspect of the foot, and is one of the main support structures for the arch. Anything that ends in ‘-itis’ means ‘inflammation of’ that particular structure or area. So, Plantar Fasciitis is inflammation of and surrounding the Plantar Fascia, the long ligament on the bottom of the foot. This used to be more commonly known as “Heel Spur” or “Heel Spur Syndrome,” because there often is a spur at the base of the heel, but after many years of research, we have come to realize that the spur is actually not the cause of any pain, but merely a bone reaction to this inflammatory and painful problem of the ligament at its attachment site at the heel.
What causes plantar fasciitis? There are several contributing factors, including improper shoe gear and inadequate internal structural support to shoes, recent gain in weight, and often, a recent change in activity. We often see patients who have just begun a new exercise program, or who have just come from a vacation to a place where they did a lot more walking and activity than they are used to doing. For example, a patient of mine just went to Europe for his honeymoon, and returned with significant pain at his heel and his arch, particularly when getting out of bed or after being in a seated position for 10-20 minutes (classic symptom called ‘Post-static Dyskenesia’). He could not remember any specific trauma or injury, but admitted to walking a lot around different cities. When asked ‘What type of shoes were you walking around in?’ he admitted that he was wearing Chuck Taylor type tennis shoes and flip flops that had very little support and structure.
So, what shoes would have helped prevent him from getting this very painful and annoying problem? Shoes that have good arch support or the addition of good arch supports (medically known as ‘Orthotics’) would be the best shoes for the prevention and treatment of Plantar Fasciitis. Why? Because most, but not all, people who develop plantar fasciitis have a collapse of their arch when they bear weight. When the arch collapses, the bones spread apart causing tension across the entire Plantar Fascia, like pulling on a rubber band. This tension over periods of time and activity is constant, and causes inflammation and even micro-tearing of the ligament supporting your arch. When you sit down or lay down for bed, the ligament and inflammation have a chance to heal and relax. When you get back up again, the ligament immediately becomes taught under the weight of the body with the bones spreading out, causing an immediate and painful re-injury to the area.
So, what are the best shoes for Plantar Fasciitis? Motion control athletic shoes with anti-pronation bars or supports through the sole of the shoe and good arch support to prevent tension across the Plantar Fascia help to prevent the collapse of the arch, thereby taking tension and pressure off of the ligament.
If wearing the best shoes and orthotics does not eliminate this problem, you should go to see your Podiatrist who can treat you in various ways to alleviate your pain.
In our practice, surgery is always a last resort unless you have an injury or infection that requires immediate surgical attention. If the first treatment plan from your doctor involves surgery, get a second opinion. Surgery is RARELY necessary for the treatment of Plantar Fasciitis!