There are many forums and blogs that discuss plantar fasciitis and its treatment. What we don't really understand is what causes plantar fasciitis, however we do have a good idea about the main risk factors for getting plantar fasciitis.
1. Keep your weight down
This is easier said than done for some people, however one of the hypothesised causes of plantar fasciitis is compression of the plantar fascia under the heel bone. If there is too much weight coming from above the plantar fascia can get overloaded and the tissue will break down. Often people experiencing plantar fasciitis will report recently gaining weight, and the plantar fascia does not have the capacity to deal with this increase in weight. People who have a high BMI are more likely to experience plantar fasciitis, and in most randomised trials for plantar fasciitis, the mean BMI is 30 kg/m2 (which is classified as obese).
2. Stretch your calves
Decreased ankle joint range of motion is another important risk factor for plantar fasciitis. When we walk our body needs to move over the foot, however if there is insufficient motion at the ankle, the motion will be found at the next joint. This will lead to flattening of the arch and increased stress being placed on the plantar fascia. So maintaining good ankle joint range of motion by having flexible calves is an important method of preventing plantar fasciitis, and other type of foot pain.
3. Avoid flat shoes
Plantar fasciitis is a lot more common in warmer weather when people are walking around barefoot or in flat sandals or thongs. When standing barefoot, there is increased tension placed on the plantar fascia, plus the body's centre of pressure is located toward the heel. When wearing shoes with a heel lift the tension on the plantar fascia reduces, and the centre of pressure moves toward the toes.
4. Avoid standing for long periods
Another big risk factor for plantar fasciitis is the number of hours spent standing. People who have jobs requiring long periods of standing on hard floors (e.g. nurses, teachers, chefs) tend to experience plantar fasciitis more often. Rather than quit your job and work in an office, trying to break up long periods of standing may help to reduce the chance of getting plantar fasciitis.
5. Avoid long distance running
Any respectable running blog or forum will be plastered with posts about plantar fasciitis, which is just because it is common in those who run long distances. Similar to those who have high BMIs, there is either a repetitive compression of the plantar fascia into the heel bone or an excessive pulling of the plantar fascia where it inserts on the heel bone, or there is both of these mechanisms acting at the same time. If you are prone to experiencing plantar fasciitis, and can't deal with the pain, considering a new form of exercise, or reducing your kilometres, may make a difference.