It is not a stretch of the imagination to think about plantar fasciitis affecting runners. Their feet are constantly pounding the hard pavement. But what about those into muscle & fitness, are they at risk as well? Short answer? Yes, especially as we age. Weight training can definitely cause plantar fasciitis as well. Yet, this is something we don't think about much in the gym; and perhaps we need more plantar fasciitis awareness whether we do a gym workout or a street workout. The good news is that there are things we can do to protect our plantar fascia during our workout sessions so that it doesn't take us out. I want to share 5 things to prevent getting plantar fasciitis in the gym. 1. STRETCH YOUR FEET AND CALVES BEFORE A WORKOUT I know you are probably like I use to be and just want to jump into a workout. Why waste time stretching, right? Well even a few brief moments of stretching prepares the muscles for the heavy load we are going to place on them, and gets our muscles and ligaments ready for our workout. Just make sure to stretch not just your feet, but calves as well, because they work in conjunction with your achille's tendon and plantar fascia. If one is tight, probably the others are as well. Here's three quick ones to do. -Seated Plantar Fascia Stretch -Sit down and gently pull back on your toes, feeling the stretch on the bottom of your feet. Hold for about 20 seconds a foot. -Ankle Circles -While sitting or standing, perform small foot rotations just using your ankles to go around in small circles. (20 seconds each) -Downward Dog -Pop into the downward dog position, keeping your heels flat on the ground, really stretch those calves one at a time, holding for about 20 seconds each (repeat twice per leg). 2. WEAR SUPPORTIVE SHOES One of the worst things we can do for our feet while working out is to wear old footwear, or shoes that have very little support. I know, I have been guilty of keeping shoes too long, but that is a huge mistake if you are wanting to avoid having feet issues. Look for support around the back of the shoe, holding your heel firmly, and also look for ample arch support and cushioning. For 5 things to look for when buying shoes click 3. DON'T OVER TRAIN! If you are like me you hate training your legs. But there is also the other extreme, of having workouts that put legs into the mix everyday. And it is not just about squats!!! When our workouts have us putting strain on our legs regularly, we are more bound to start experiencing the tightening of our calves and platntar fascia. We should not do heavy leg workouts more than 2 or 3 times a week! If there is pain in your heels and feet, you can still work out, but I suggest switching to non-weight bearing exercises. For instance, replace squats and lunges with something like seated leg-extensions, hip abductions and other machine based exercises until you are free of the pain. You want to give your feet time to heal after all, don't you! 4. GET ADEQUATE REST You just squatted 315 lbs doing 10 repetitions! Amazing! Now make sure your feet have adequate recovery time between sets. I know I was always a clock watcher, counting down the 90 seconds leading to my next set. That's fine, but make sure you don't start shortening your recovery time. Your feet will thank you, even if you feel you can push yourself. Short recovery periods between sets can put added strain on our feet, which can then lead to inflammation and pain. This leads to plantar fasciitis. While I am not for or against this, I would caution that standing exercises are what can cause the most amount of inflammation and pain in our feet. Adequate recovery time between sets is important as well as adequate recovery between workouts. 5. PERFORM CALF RAISES AND OTHER ANKLE FLEXION EXERCISES Wait!!! Didn't you already say this? Well, yes, but I was just talking about quick stretching! Make sure to add to your weight training arsenal, exercises that specifically target your calves and feet. Keeping these muscles strong and healthy can actually help prevent feet injuries. So maybe do a few less squats, and start to add in standing calf raises using heavy weights. I am a firm advocate of weight training for any age. I believe you can be in your best health even in your 40''s and above. Taking care of ourselves so that we can stay in the game just becomes more important as we age! I don't want to see you on the side-lines for something that could have been easily prevented. So take care of yourself. Or as I always say “Stay healthy, so you can stay fit!” Cheers, Drew
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