What causes Plantar Fasciitis to Flare up?

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We all hate it when plantar fasciitis flares up. We all know the story too – we go out for a run, we feel amazing, we’re so happy, we’re doing it! We go to sleep impressed and satisfied we made it without any heel pain.

Then the morning comes.

That gut wrenching feeling, the heel pain isn’t even that bad, but we know what it means.

No more running, no more hiking, no more easy days at the park.

Is this the end?

Are we back to square one?

No,

Well, it depends.

The sharp pain you feel in your heel is caused by micro tears along the plantar fascia. This pain, these micro-tears and related symptoms are the result of poor circulation. We need good circulation so the fascia may heal properly after running, walking, or exercise.

Okay, so back to square one?

Hold your horses, I’m getting to that!

Where was I? Oh yea, Overuse / overstretching of the Plantar Fascia. The plantar fascia acts like a shock absorbing spring in the arch of your foot. When you walk or run this spring is stretched, the stretching is what causes micro-tears. Normally these micro-tears will heal naturally shortly after exercise.

Okay, so why aren’t MY micro-tears healing properly?

Well, remember that poor circulation thing? That is the most likely cause.

And the cause for that?

Well, poor circulation could be caused by tendinitis (tightness) further up your leg, even up into your spine. Tendon tightness is usually also caused by overuse but can also be caused by infections anywhere in your body.

And if you know you’re healthy and not in that camp, then there are some other likely culprits,

Common factors causing Plantar Fasciitis to flare up:

  • Poor shoe selection
  • Repetitive / Daily exercise routines never allowing the heel to heal
  • Obesity
  • Toe alignment issues
  • Pigeon toes (in-toeing)
  • Running in excess
  • Pronation, Supination

Would you like to know more?

Poor Shoe Selection

Poor shoe selection could be anything from an overly tight toe box to lacking arch support. Please check our guide to the best running shoes for plantar fasciitis. It has a complete list of suitable running footwear for PF sufferers.

A tight toe box will cramp your toes, especially when they need to splay while running. This can cause circulation issues while in your toes it may still effect your heels with back pressure. If you have wide feet you can find a good pair of shoes in a wide model that allow for proper splay, if you don’t have wide feet but are still concerned, merrel makes some shoes with amazing toe box space.

Zero drop shoes

Aren’t these good for plantar fasciitis? Yes, and no, while they can help you strengthen the plantar fascia, which is what you need – if you use them too often – and before you’re ready for them they can actually cause plantar fasciitis.

Zero drop shoes are wonderful, but if you’ve been wearing supportive footwear for your entire life, it needs to be a slow transition into them.

Arch support

Arch support was essentially an overblown invention from ad agencies in the 90’s. Now everyone needs arch support, and podiatrists will echo this all the way to cancun.

For plantar fasciitis, arch support, will help alleviate the pain, and will prevent further damage.

However,

Your arches do need strengthening, so you need to strike a balance between using pain management footwear and footwear that allows you to regain the strength you need.

Overuse

Run every day? Me too!

Well at least until I got plantar fasciitis.

Running every day may not be the best idea if you struggle with plantar fasciitis. Your body usually needs a day or two to recover from injury, and micro injuries from running can be considered covered under that.

Give you heels a chance to heel!

Obesity

I’m not sure if this one is self explanatory or not,

Being overweight sucks and running is a great way to rectify that.

Just be careful.

Slamming your heels into the pavement is hard on your feet regardless of weight, being overweight likely means two things:

You’re lacking in strength

And your heal strikes are going to be very hard

My advice:

Take it easy. But do keep up the good work you big beautiful soul, you’ll get there eventually.

Pronation and Supination

Pronation occurs when the foot naturally rolls inwards while running, you push off with your big toe and land with your heel

Supination is the opposite, its when your angle rolls outwards.

These two can stress the plantar fascia too far, leading to plantar fasciitis if not corrected.

The best way to correct it is with the use of heel cups.

How to know if I really have Plantar Fasciitis

In Summary

I hope this article helps you understand the causes behind your recent plantar fasciitis flare up. And I hope it’s given you some ideas to check off the list and ensure isn’t the cause behind it.

Safe running!

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