What is plantar fasciitis?
Before we look at how orthotic insoles can help mitigate the pain and discomfort caused by plantar fasciitis, it’s important to first understand what it is and what its causes are. Plantar fasciitis is caused by excessive stress and aggravation on the connective tissue that stretches from the heel bone to the ball of the foot (called the plantar fascia). When the plantar fascia becomes enflamed, every step can become painful and a cycle of pain and overtightening, tearing and inflammation can set in, causing plantar fasciitis.
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
Symptoms can vary, but the main complaint from people with this condition is pain and stiffness in the heel and sometimes near the middle, bottom of the foot. The pain can be a sharp, burning sensation and is usually the worst in the morning, after long periods of sitting or standing, or walking. Other symptoms include swelling and tenderness on the bottom of the foot from the top of the plantar fascia down to the bottom of the heel.
What are its causes?
Causes are also varied and there are several risk factors. They are listed below:
Age – Plantar fasciitis is most common in active people between the ages of 40-70. For example, if you are a long-distance runner or have a job that keeps you on your feet for extended periods of time, you are at risk for developing plantar fasciitis.
Foot mechanics – If you have an abnormal pattern of walking, weak feet or ankles, are flat-footed or have an unusually high arch, you will also be more prone to developing plantar fasciitis.
Poor quality shoes - Wearing poor quality shoes such as shoes with improper or insufficient arch support are another cause of plantar fasciitis.
Tightness - An Achilles tendon or calf muscles that are too tight can be another cause.
Obesity or a sudden increase in weight can also cause plantar fasciitis because the extra weight puts added stress on the plantar fascia.
High-stress activities - A sudden increase in physical activity, such as jogging, as well as ongoing high-stress activities such as long-distance running and ballet dancing can also cause this condition.
Disease - Certain diseases such as arthritis can cause plantar fasciitis.
How can orthotic insoles help?
Orthotic insoles can mitigate the pain and discomfort caused by plantar fasciitis because they minimize the stress and stretching of the plantar fascia that occurs when you stand or walk.
For example, if you are suffering from heel pain that is related to an abnormal inward motion of the foot (pronation), an orthotic insole with arch support will eliminate the excessive pronation and the stress on the plantar fascia.
In addition, orthotic insoles with a deep heel seat help absorb shocks because they have a cupping effect of the soft tissues around the heel, which then makes the soft tissues more effective at cushioning the heel bone. As a result, orthotic insoles and shoes with good shock absorption help reduce the impacts and pressure on the heel.
There are two types of orthotic insoles: Custom-made devices and standard devices. Since custom-made orthotics are much more expensive than standard orthotics, it might be wise to try nonprescription orthotic insoles, which are less costly, before investing in expensive custom-made orthotics.
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