The plantar tendon runs along the bottom of your foot from your toes to your heel. It maintains the natural curve of the foot and provides support as you walk. Sometimes, however, it can become inflamed, a condition called plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis symptoms include a feeling of thickness or heaviness and pain in the bottom of your feet, especially when you stand up or take your first few steps. This can make walking, or even standing, difficult and painful.
Here are some ways you can keep your plantar tendons healthy and avoid plantar fasciitis. If you’re already suffering, these methods can also help speed your recovery, no matter what your plantar fasciitis cause is.
1. Wear proper shoes
Badly fitting or worn-out shoes won’t support your feet properly. But if regular shoes aren’t enough, your doctor can recommend shoes for plantar fasciitis, or orthotic inserts or night supports to help give your feet extra help. Even kinesiology tape can help.
2. Improve your walking and running form
If you tend to land on your heels, you’re putting unnecessary stress on the plantar tendons. You want to try to land on the front or middle of your foot — what runners refer to as the “midfoot strike.”
3. Do stretches
There are various exercises you can do to stretch and relax your plantar tendons, as well as the calf and Achilles tendon, which also support the plantar tendons. A simple one is, while seated, to pull your toes gently up toward your knees. Alternatively, stand about a yard away from a wall and lean forward, supporting yourself with your hands on the wall. Try to keep your feet and calves relaxed while doing this.
4. Get a foot rub
A deep massage on the soles of your feet will help relieve tension on the plantar tendons. If you don’t have someone to rub your feet for you, a foam roller, or even rolling a golf or tennis ball along the soles of your feet, can have the same effect. Don’t neglect the rest of your lower legs either!
5. Avoid rough or uneven surfaces
Running or walking on hills, on loose or broken ground, or climbing stairs too much means your feet have to work harder to help keep your balance, and that means extra stress on your plantar tendons.
6. Make sure your feet and lower legs get enough rest
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sit on the couch and put your feet up. You can still try workouts that don’t stress your lower legs and feet, such as swimming, yoga, or some forms of strength training. Losing weight can also help reduce pressure on your feet and the tendons.
Recovering from plantar fasciitis can be a long and frustrating process, especially if you continue to mistreat your feet and legs and make it worse. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the risks — and if it does flare up, be ready to change your routine right away to avoid making the damage worse.