Do shoes for plantar fasciitis exist?
Whilst your web search is likely to return a selection of websites selling footwear that claim to be shoes for plantar fasciitis, as it currently stands, there is no credible scientific evidence to suggest they are an effective treatment option. These types of footwear are orthopedic shoes that claim themselves to be an effective way to naturally realign the foot to improve the heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis.
What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition of the heel and foot arch. Footwear companies tout their shoes for plantar fasciitis as a solution to this pain, though currently without any clinical backing to support this notion. Plantar fasciitis is characterized by the inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament, which is found at the base of the foot, connecting the bottom of the heel bone to the base of the toes. With overuse or persistent strain, micro-tears can occur in the plantar fascia, causing inflammation and pain. One of the tell-tale signs of plantar fasciitis is the burning, stabbing pain that patients experience in the base of their heel. Sometimes the burning pain extends across the arch of the foot. With plantar fasciitis, the pain is almost always at its worst first thing in the morning as the patient takes their first steps out of bed.
What are the causes of plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is generally the result of overuse or repetitive strain on the plantar fascia ligament, but there are a number of factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing the condition. These risk factors for plantar fasciitis include:
- Age: middle aged people are at higher risk
- Sex: females are at greater risk of developing plantar fasciitis
- Foot structure: flat feet (pes planus) or feet with high arches (pes cavus) are at higher risk
- Poor calf flexibility: tight calf muscles increase the risk of the condition
- Overweight: increased bodyweight increases risk of plantar fasciitis
- Pregnancy: especially when associated with sudden weight gain, increases risk
- Poor footwear: flat or unsupportive footwear may contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis and so these are the least desirable shoes for plantar fasciitis
- Occupation: people that are on their feet for extended periods during the day, especially on hard surfaces are at increased risk.
Will shoes for plantar fasciitis treat my condition?
At this stage, there is no credible peer-reviewed clinical evidence to support any particular brands or types of shoes for plantar fasciitis, in terms of treating the condition. There are some certain types of shoes that claim to support to the feet in an advantageous way for plantar fasciitis sufferers, however your sports podiatrist will be able to recommend other forms of support that will be beneficial in providing control and stability for your foot. It is not necessary for you to purchase any specific shoes for plantar fasciitis. Your sports podiatrist will advise you of what types of support methods are most appropriate for your condition. Some of these forms of support may include particular strapping techniques, prescriptive tailor -made orthotic inserts, and in some severe cases, immobilization boots.
What types of shoes for plantar fasciitis should I wear?
Particular shoes for plantar fasciitis do not technically exist, however there are types of shoes that you should certainly avoid if you have plantar fasciitis. To avoid making your plantar fasciitis worse, or to be proactive in preventing plantar fasciitis in the first instance, you should avoid wearing shoes that are flat, thin-soled, or that provide no support to the feet for extended periods of time. These non-ideal types of shoes include ballet flats and regular flat-soled flip-flops or thongs. These types of shoes can lead to long term problems of the lower leg and foot, including the development of plantar fasciitis. This is partly due to the fact that they do not provide any arch or heel support for the foot. In the case of thongs or flip-flips, there is the additional issue of your toes constantly trying to grip to keep them on, straining the plantar fascia.
Your sports podiatrist is an expert in foot function and anatomy, and hence can readily assist you in selecting footwear that offers the correct type of support for your feet and arches. Whilst shoes for plantar fasciitis do not really exist, functional running shoes are sometimes suggested as a supportive footwear option for plantar fasciitis sufferers because they provide control, stability and arch support. These types of shoes can be quite an investment though, so it is always sensible to consult with your sports podiatrist prior to purchasing. Your sports podiatrist can recommend which brands or makes of shoe might be appropriate for you. Thankfully, when it comes to supporting the healing process and preventing the development of plantar fasciitis, there are a number of footwear options, from casual sandals to working shoes, which offer better alternatives than flat-soled, unsupportive shoes. The podiatrists at Heel Clinic can point you in the right direction.
The information published above regarding shoes for plantar fasciitis is intended for informational purposes only and should not be taken as general medical advice. If you would like to discuss what type of shoes for plantar fasciitis are appropriate for your feet, you should consult with a qualified sports podiatrist. Appointments can be made by emailing [email protected] or by calling 02 0293883322.
Karl Lockett– sports podiatrist.