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Which Athletes Are At The Highest Risk For Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a painful and sometimes tricky foot condition to treat that oftentimes affects amateur and professional athletes. Plantar fasciitis develops when the thick band of tissue on the underside of your foot – called the plantar fascia – suffers some microtearing and in turn becomes inflamed. Without the right type of treatment, these small tissue tears can grow until larger tears develop or a full blown rupture occurs, both of which can keep you out of competition for an extended period of time. But which athletes are at the greatest risk for plantar fasciitis, and how can the condition be prevented and treated? We explain why certain athletes are at an increased risk for plantar fasciitis in today’s blog.

Athletes And Their Plantar Fasciitis Risk

A few different factors can contribute to a person’s risk of developing plantar fasciitis. Your natural foot shape impacts how stress is placed on the plantar plane, but other factors like your weight and your shoe choice also play a role in your overall risk profile. That said, the most common contributing factor to plantar fasciitis onset tends to be activity level. Athletes that put a lot of stress on their feet are more prone to microtears in their plantar fascia. Armed with this knowledge, it becomes easier to understand which athletes are at the greatest risk for plantar fasciitis onset:

  • Soccer Players – Soccer involves a lot of running and stress on the feet, so soccer players are naturally more inclined to be felled by plantar fasciitis, especially if their feet are in shoes that are overly tight.
  • Basketball Players – Basketball also involves a lot of running, and athletes are playing on a harder surface which will place more stress on the feet, both of which increase a person’s risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
  • Football Players – Certain football positions will do extra running throughout a game or a practice, and these athletes may be at a heightened risk for plantar fasciitis onset, especially if they don’t give their feet some time to recover between practices or games.
  • Runners – As you can imagine, track and cross country athletes, as well as amateur or weekend warrior runners are all at an elevated risk for suffering from plantar fasciitis.

Preventing And Treating Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis prevention and treatment really comes down to protecting your feet and giving them the time off they need between physical activity. When treated properly, many athletes can overcome microtearing in their plantar fascia with ease, but problems occur when these athletes continue to push through low levels of discomfort and end up making the tears larger. The best thing you can do to prevent and treat plantar fasciitis is to give your feet some rest and protection between activities.

We understand that young athletes may want to play sports year round, and that’s fine so long as you are cognizant of the stress they are putting on their feet. There needs to be some downtime between seasons or even during the season so that they aren’t continuing to stress their plantar fascia after it’s been overstressed and weakened. One of the hardest things to do is to get an athlete to sit out a few games or practices while their plantar fascia heals, but you need to stress the importance of the long term over the short term. Missing a couple of days of activity is preferred to pushing through the pain, suffering a setback and being done for the year. Rest and avoiding high-impact activity is crucial during your recovery period.

Aside from giving your body enough time to recover from the rigors of sport, some ways to prevent or treat plantar fasciitis include:

  • Wearing properly-fitting athletic shoes
  • Working towards a healthier weight
  • Staying hydrated and consuming a diet rich in key nutrients
  • Performing some targeted physical therapy exercises
  • Stretching before and after athletic activity

Don’t let a plantar fascia injury keep you on the sidelines for an extended period this season. Instead, connect with Dr. McDonald and his team to put an end to your painful foot symptoms once and for all. For more information, or for help with a different foot or ankle issue, reach out to our team today at (860) 244-8889.

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