With the start of the 2013 regular NFL season well under way, you can feel the excitement in the air. With all teams on the same page having completed two games of their schedule, as of right it could be anyone’s year to win the Lombardi trophy. Perhaps the only thing that could possibly spoil the positive energy felt by football fans right now is if one of your starters is on the injured reserve list. Thankfully for New York Giants fans, Victor Cruz was able to play in the first two games, meaning his heel injury is almost completely behind him.
Heel injuries are common in athletes, and it doesn’t take a brutal contact sport like football to cause them. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot pathologies seen by our physicians at Affiliated Foot and Ankle Center located in Howell, New Jersey. This disorder is responsible for over 1 million patient visits every year, so it is good to know how to avoid this painful condition.
It is wise to avoid training excessively, especially if you haven’t ran in a while. The plantar fascia is a thin band of tissue that is attached very closely to the skin on the bottom of your foot. If you stress it too much by exerting yourself too quickly, then microtrauma to the tissue results. Repetitive microtrauma will lead to painful inflammation of this band of tissue, and you will develop heel pain that is most noticeable when you take your first step after getting out of bed in the morning.
Faulty running shoes are another common cause of plantar fasciitis. You should make sure you are in an athletic shoe that is designed for the contours of your feet. Running stores have salespeople trained in matching a specific running shoe to a certain foot type. It is also important to replace your shoes promptly at the first signs wear and tear, or when you start developing foot pain. A podiatrist with an interest in sports medicine could help you devise a running plan that would avoid this common foot disorder.
Lastly, avoid running on uneven surfaces. Your foot goes through a natural progression of very specific movements from when your heel first strikes the ground to when your toes leave the ground. This progression is known as the gait cycle. Unyielding surfaces interrupt this normal gait cycle, again causing stress and microtrauma to your plantar fascia.
Whether you are a multimillion dollar professional athlete or someone wanting to take their first jog in 15 years, foot injuries as a result of exercise can be debilitating. Check back next month when I discuss other common conditions arising from improper training, and how to avoid them.
By Hal Ornstein