plantar fasciitis and fitness
Well, the first month of the New Year is almost over. If you’re like many people who have made a resolution list, increasing fitness and physical activity was probably one of your top items. Whether that includes eating a healthier diet or exercising more to lose extra pounds or to help yourself enjoy the outdoors better, getting fitter is a great resolution. A healthy lifestyle not only makes you look great, but has been shown to improve your physical and mental health and make you happier and more confident.
Regardless of where you begin your fitness journey, it can be easy to overdo it at first, which can cause injuries that can throw off or put off your new fitness routine. Overuse of the feet and legs often wears down the tendons and muscles, including the important plantar fascia tendon. Plantar fasciitis is a painful foot condition that affects this tendon in the foot that connects the heel and ball of the foot, giving the foot structure and stability and making it possible to use the foot correctly for standing, walking, running, and jumping. Since cardio is an essential part of any fitness routine, people often reserve a portion of their workout for walking or jogging (depending on starting level of fitness). When the plantar fascia tendon is injured, this important part of the exercise regimen can become too painful.
Fortunately, there are ways you can exercise and burn those calories so you’re on track to achieve your fitness resolution for the new year. These exercises will get your heart rate up and break a sweat, while also providing low impact on your feet:
Cycling You don’t need a fancy road bike or riding strenuous trails to get a good bike workout. Depending on your fitness level and ability, you can ride your bike on the roads in your neighborhood and go as long and as far as you like. You can also choose the terrain, starting on a short, flat route and building up to a more hilly one. If you go fast and long enough and incorporate an increasingly challenging route, you can get a good cardio workout without putting stress or impact on your feet.
Use of exercise machines. While you can automatically head to the treadmill at the gym, there are other machines at most gyms that give you the same quality of workout without putting undue pressure on your feet. Some great ones to consider include the elliptical trainer, stationary bike, and rowing machine. These machines are great for all fitness levels as they can be programmed to go as fast or slow as you like and the resistance can also be adjusted.
Hit the pool. For many years, doctors and physical therapists have recommended exercise in the pool. Water offers natural resistance and the buoyancy of the body in the water decreases the amount of weight placed on the feet. Water aerobics and rigorous lap swimming can not only feel refreshing, but can also give you a great workout that’s also great for relieving stress on your joints.
Yoga. While cardio classes like step aerobics and Zumba are off-limits for people with plantar fasciitis, gentle stretching and strengthening exercises like those in yoga and Pilates offer the combination of being low-impact while building strength, muscle tone, and slimming down the waistline. These exercises can also cause one to break a beneficial sweat.
Losing weight and getting in better shape is a common and beneficial New Year’s resolution. However, pain from plantar fasciitis can make it difficult to achieve this resolution by making exercise painful and difficult. However, there are alternatives to running and walking that provide the same cardiovascular benefits. These include biking, using the elliptical trainer, stationary bike and rowing machine, swimming, and water aerobics and yoga.
If your plantar fasciitis doesn’t go away on its own or is extremely painful, contact your podiatrist today to schedule an appointment.