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Plantar Fasciitis and Fitness

Well, the first month of the New Year is almost over. If you’re like many people who made a list of resolutions, increased fitness and physical activity were likely one of your top items. Whether that includes eating a healthier diet or working out more to lose extra pounds or to help yourself better enjoy the outdoors, improved fitness is a great resolution to have. A healthy lifestyle not only makes you look great, but it has been shown to improve your physical and mental health and make you happier and more self-confident.

Regardless of where you’re starting your fitness journey, it can be easy to overdo it in the beginning, potentially causing injury that can sidetrack or postpone your new workout routine. Overuse of the feet and legs often wear out 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 properly use the foot for standing, walking, running and jumping. As cardiovascular exercises are essential parts of any workout routine, people usually set aside a portion of their workout to walking or jogging (depending on one’s starting fitness level). When the plantar fascia tendon is injured, this important part of the exercise regimen can become too painful to do.

Fortunately, there are ways you can work out and burn those calories to be on your way to achieving your new year’s fitness resolution. These exercises will boost your heart rate and make your break into a sweat, all while providing a low impact on your feet:

Biking. You don’t need a fancy road bike or hit strenuous trails to get a good workout on a biking. Based on your fitness level and ability, you can bike on the roads in your neighborhood and go as long and far as you want. You can also pick the terrain, starting off on a short flat route and building up to a more hilly one. If one goes fast and long enough and incorporates an ever-increasingly challenging route, a good cardio exercise can be achieved without putting stress and impact on your feet.

Using workout machines. While you may automatically head for the treadmill at the gym, there are other machines in most gyms that give you the same quality workout without you putting excessive pressure on your feet. Some great ones to consider include the elliptical, stationary bike and rowing machine. These machines are great for all levels of fitness as one can program them to go as fast or slow as one desires and the resistance can also be adjusted.

Hit the pool. For many years pool exercise has been recommended by doctors and physical therapists. The water offers natural resistance and the body’s buoyancy in the water lessens the amount of weight put on the feet. Water aerobics and the rigorous swimming of laps not only may feel refreshing, but it can give you a great workout that is also great for easing the stress on one’s joints.

Yoga. While cardio classes like step aerobics and Zumba are off-limits for those with plantar fasciitis, gentle stretching and strengthening exercises like those done in yoga and Pilates offer the combination of being low-impact while also building strength and muscle tone and slimming one’s waistline. These exercises can also cause one to break into a beneficial sweat.

Losing weight and getting into better shape is a common and beneficial new years’ resolution. However, plantar fasciitis pain can hinder one’s achievement of this resolution by making exercising painful and difficult. However, there are alternatives to running and walking that provide the same cardiovascular benefits. These include biking, using the elliptical, stationary biking 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.