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Decreasing Activity



Decreasing activity is easier said than done, especially considering the average active person take 10,000 steps a day. The idea is to be aware of the stress put on the feet and to be aware of the daily activities that may aggravate the activity.

The following list will help decrease the stress on your feet and help accelerate the healing of plantar fasciitis.

  1. Stop running, jogging or walking. Swim or bike instead.
  2. If you work out on a treadmill, stop! This is the worst activity for your heels.
  3. Avoid the stair stepper. The stair stepper puts a lot of stress through your arch.
  4. If you are up and down at work a lot, try to limit it, and get up only once an hour, or once every 2 hours.
  5. At home, avoid going up and down the stairs multiple times. Have your spouse, significant other or child run up or down for you.
  6. Try to avoid steep hills. Stairs are better than hills. Walking up the stairs sideways will help take the stress off your feet.
  7. Do not lift or carry heavy items. This adds to the total amount of force that goes through your feet. This also increases the total impact on your heel.
  8. Do not lift your kids and carry them. Use a stroller, have them walk, or let your spouse/significant other carry them.
  9. Don’t lift weights. If you do, make sure you are seated
  10. The EFX (elliptical) machine may be a good alternative to the stair stepper or treadmill, but like any weight bearing activity it can also aggravate plantar fasciitis. If you must exercise with this, lower the platform adjustment to it’s lowest level.

For Athletes

As an athlete, competitive or recreational, the hardest part of all injuries is the healing. Taking time off of training or exercising can be extremely frustrating. The biggest mistake many active people make is trying to push through the pain and hope that the condition will just go away on it’s own. Trying to “walk off” plantar fasciitis is a big mistake. Act quickly! Start treatment immediately.

The best approach is to rest the foot for 10-14 days. Cross train by road or mountain biking, swimming or weight lifting. Do all the therapy outlined on the about heel pain page. Be aggressive about this treatment, stretching as much as possible throughout the day and icing or contrasting between hot and cold as much as your schedule allows. Here are some guidelines. If the pain has decreased considerably during this time, it is safe to return to your original activity. Let’s take running as an example. For a runner training at 35 miles a week, working towards a half marathon, the first day of running should be a short, flat, slow 2-3 mile run. Stretching should be done before and after the run and ice should be applied for 15 minutes immediately after the run. The following day should be a rest day. For individuals running 5-7 miles on hills, this run may seem extremely short. But, the key is not to over do it. DO NOT return to the regimen you were running prior to the development of the plantar fasciitis. This is the most common cause for a recurrence. Every other day the length or intensity of the run should be increased if there is minimal or no pain. By the second week hills can be incorporated. By the third week a return to the original running routine can be expected.

If the pain did not resolve after the 2 weeks of rest, see a podiatrist. For individuals who have been exercising on a sore heel for months, the chances of resolving the fasciitis in 2 weeks is unrealistic. Plan for a number of months of conservative therapy for complete healing. A modified training program can be incorporated into this treatment regimen. Here a few guidelines for modified activity and cross training:

  • Swim for exercise, or bike at low resistance at the gym and avoid the recumbent bike. If you bike outside, spin up the hills (use the lowest gears). Of course it is better to avoid hills if possible. Do not drop your heel while cycling, this puts excess stress through the Achilles tendon and the arch. Wear cycling shoes, or rigid shoes while cycling.
  • Consider weight lifting. Avoid standing while lifting weights. Avoid squats, calf lifts and quad bench presses. There are many areas that we tend to avoid when we focus on specific training, especially the upper body. Try to readjust your focus for a few weeks.
  • Taper your routine if you have pain at any time during the return. If you have a small amount of pain, then don't increase the mileage or intensity, or give it a day's break to rest and ice and stretch. If you have a lot of pain when you return, then you should take a full two weeks off from the activity and see your physician to consider more aggressive therapy. Physical therapy and orthotics would be good treatments to add.

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last updated 5/22/15

Disclaimer: The advice on this website is not intended to substitute for a visit to your health care provider. We will not be held liable for any diagnosis made or treatment recommended. Consult your doctor if you feel you have a medical problem.