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 probably one of your top items. Whether that includes eating a healthier diet or exercising more to shed extra pounds or help yourself enjoy the outdoors better, improving fitness is a big resolution. A healthy lifestyle not only makes you look great, it has been shown to improve your physical and mental health and make you happier and more confident.

Regardless of where you start your fitness journey, it can be easy to overdo it at first, which can lead to injuries that can sidetrack or postpone your new fitness routine. Overuse of the feet and legs often wears out 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 properly use the foot for standing, walking, running, and jumping . Since cardio is an essential part of any exercise routine, people typically reserve a portion of their workout for walking or jogging (depending on starting fitness level). 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 off those calories to get you on your way to achieving your fitness resolution for the new year. These exercises will get your heart rate up and break a sweat, while providing low impact on your feet:

Cycling You don’t need a fancy road bike or riding strenuous trails to get a good workout on a bike. 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 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 may be automatically directed 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 bike, 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 desired and the resistance can also be adjusted.

Hit the pool. For many years, doctors and physical therapists have recommended exercising in the pool. Water offers natural resistance and the buoyancy of the body in the water decreases the amount of weight put 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 found in yoga and Pilates offer the combination of being low-impact while they build muscle strength and tone and slim the waist. 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, plantar fasciitis pain 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 bicycling, using the elliptical trainer, stationary bike and rowing machine, swimming, and water aerobics and yoga.

If your plantar fasciitis does not go away on its own or is extremely painful, contact your podiatrist today to schedule an appointment.

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