Women's Health Walking Workouts



What it feels like: Tenderness on your heel or the bottom of your foot. Why it happens: The plantar fascia is the band of tissue that runs from your heel bone to the ball of your foot. When this shock absorber and arch support is strained, small tears develop and the tissue stiffens as a protective response. “Walkers can overwork the area, especially if they walk on hard, paved surfaces,” says sports physiother­apist Teresa Schuemann. People with high arches or whose feet roll inward when walking are particular­ly susceptibl­e to this condition. You know you have plantar fasciitis if you feel pain in your heel or arch first thing in the morning, a result of the fascia stiffening overnight. Untreated, the problem can create a bony growth around the heel known as a heel spur. Thefix: Find a pair of walking shoes that aren’t too flexible in the middle. “They should be bendable at the ball, but provide stiffness and support at the arch,” says podiatrist Melinda Reiner. And always wear supportive shoes or sandals with a contoured foot bed. Until you can walk pain free, stick to flat, stable, giving paths, such as a level dirt road, and avoid pavement, sand and uneven ground that might cause too much flexing at the arch, says podiatrist Phillip Ward. If the condition worsens, ask a podiatrist to prescribe a splint to stabilise your foot in a slightly flexed position while you sleep, which will counteract tightening. You can also find relief with this stretch: sit with the ankle of your injured foot across your thigh. Pull your toes towards your shin until you feel a stretch in the arch (run your other hand along the sole; you should feel a taut band of tissue). Do 10 stretches, holding each for 10 seconds. Then massage your foot by rolling the sole over a golf ball or full water bottle.

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