You may have just found out what’s causing that pain in your heel, or you may have been suffering for a while, hoping it will go away. Some days go better than others, but those first steps in the morning are murder. If you’ve had heel pain for some time, you may have figured out that certain types of footwear seem to make the problem worse than others. We can help you figure out what to look for, so you get the best shoes for plantar fasciitis.
Diving into the Reasons
Understanding what happens with this overuse injury helps explain why your heel hurts and why shoes make a difference. Your plantar fascia is a strong ligament band that runs along the bottom of your foot. It attaches at the heel bone, goes under the arch, and then fans out and attaches to your toe bones.
With certain foot types (flat feet, for example) the inward rolling (pronation) of your foot when you walk puts a big strain on this band of tissue. It stretches too far and can get tiny tears on the surface. These become irritated and inflamed, which damages the tissue further. When you rest, the ligament tightens up again, so the next time you put weight on it, it pulls against your heel bone, causing pain. The inflamed tissue itself can also be painful.
Getting the Bends
The places where your shoes bend make a big difference to your pain. You want them to bend at the joints between your feet and your toes. Your feet need to flex there in order to push off when you walk, run, and jump. A certain amount of pronation is necessary with each step, but too much risks damaging your foot, so you do not want your shoes to bend in the heel or midfoot—that part should stay rigid. Hold the shoe at the sole between your palms and push your hands together. If the front part of the shoe rolls, that’s okay; but if the middle part bends easily, so you can almost fold the shoe in half, you have a problem.
You also don’t want it to twist in the middle. If you grab your shoe at the toe and the heel and twist as if you were trying to wring it out, it should be too rigid to do so. If the shoe twists easily, that is not good, because it allows your foot to twist as well, putting strain on the fascia.
Staying Buoyant in the Middle
The best shoes for plantar fasciitis will help support the arch and keep it from rolling too far while the ligament is healing. That means that the insole at the inner edge of your midfoot should be fairly rigid and have a firm curve that pads and supports your arch to keep it from falling. That, along with a softer gel surface on the outer edge, can keep some of the damaging pressure off your plantar fascia.
The heel of the shoe should be firm, too, but with enough cushioning to protect the sore tissues from further irritation. Shopping for footwear can be a frustrating experience, because many times a pair will not have all of these characteristics needed to eliminate your heel pain.
Custom Orthotics—A Life Preserver
If you can’t find shoes for plantar fasciitis to put an end to your discomfort, custom orthotics can be a real lifesaver. These inserts are custom crafted for your specific feet, to address your unique problems. They give support exactly where it is needed, and provide cushioning for your particular hotspots. They can help correct the way your foot moves and redistribute the pressure of your weight so it falls evenly over your whole foot instead of pressuring only certain areas.
For persistent heel pain, come in to Abbott Foot & Ankle Clinic for an evaluation. Chiropodist Tony Abbott has years of experience taking care of people’s sore feet and ankles. We will find out the reason for your pain, and if you need custom orthotics, we will design them just for you. Call (705) 444-9929 to set up an appointment at our office in Collingwood, Ontario.
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