Many people are unable to join marathons and similar events, but that doesn’t mean they won’t benefit from taking a walk as a regular exercise. To help prevent disease and promote good health, the Centers for Disease Control advises a mere 2.5-hours of brisk walking every week, or 5 30-minute walks anytime throughout the week. But if you have a condition such as plantar fasciitis, even five minutes of walking can already be uncomfortable or even painful.
There are several factors that lead to foot pain, and plantar fasciitis is among the most common. It is mostly a result of a swollen plantar fascia, which is the tissue that attaches your toes to your heel bone. It’s a sharp pain that is typically felt in the morning when taking your first few steps, easing slowly as you move throughout the day. It can return, however, after you sit or stand for an extended time.
So what can you do to treat the pain? You can take analgesic for the pain, but if you don’t remove the cause, it will only come back. Start by buying appropriate footwear. You may find shoes that are made specifically for plantar fasciitis, but generally speaking, there are characteristics that you should prioritize when you go out to shop (flip-flops and sandals out!).
Deep-heeled cup – secures your rearfoot in a comfortable and stable place
Firm heel cup – holds the rearfoot with just enough tightness that prevents shifting or twisting
Wide heel – adds stability and keeps the foot from wobbling
Adequate cushioning – reduces the pressure as you take steps when walking
Arch support – scatters weight in equal proportions around the foot and supports affected tissue (plantar fascia)
Podiatrists recommend buying footwear later in the day, a time when the feet have swollen a bit as they often do. And though you might think it’s obvious, don’t just rely on your last shoe size (when you purchased your last pair) because there can be huge variations in sizing with different manufacturers. Because your feet will never be exactly equal in length, buy shoes for the larger foot. Also try on a pair with socks or hose on, or any other orthotic devices you may be using. These things can really alter fit and comfort as you might imagine. Lastly, don’t ever pay for shoes unless you’re totally sure they’re what you want.