Insoles for plantar fasciitis are one of the easiest, quickest tools you can use to beat this debilitating condition. Here is what to consider when choosing insoles plus the best exercises to beat heel pain when running.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
As anyone who has suffered plantar fasciitis knows, it is characterised by excruciating pain at the heel bone or in the arch of the foot. Inevitably, it often occurs just when you are reaching your peak enjoyment of running or just a few weeks before your event!
Sometimes when you “warm up” you cautiously celebrate, thinking the pain has gone, but as soon as you get out of a chair or jump out of bed in the morning, the pain can be so severe, it may cause you to limp for a couple of minutes. It interrupts your training big time and makes just getting around a normal day absolute misery.
The plantar fascia is a tissue that supports the arch of the foot. When this is overloaded or overstretched the tissue can become painful and inflamed. 10-15% of the population suffer from this condition at any point and runners are particularly prone to it.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
The fascia helps support the weight of the body when standing and helps propel you forward when walking or running. If you have biomechanical problems like:
- flat feet
- high arches
- weak intrinsic foot muscles
- tight calves
- over pronation
your plantar fascia has a higher chance of becoming inflamed.
Best Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis
As many of you know, I am a sports physical therapist as well as triathlon coach. I spent many years helping runners get through plantar fasciitis. Here is what to do:
- Self massage: rub the arch of your foot over a golf ball or a rolling pin regularly for a few minutes each day to stretch out the plantar fascia
- Ice +/or neurofen to reduce inflammation
- Calf stretches
- Strengthen the muscles in the foot and calf
- Wear supportive insoles for plantar fasciitis to correct the alignment of the foot. (If you have a tendency for flat feet or over pronation, you are at higher risk of developing plantar fasciitis).
Best Insoles for Plantar Fasciitis
Insoles for plantar fasciitis are not the total solution in isolation. You still need to reduce the inflammation, stretch and strengthen the surrounding tissues.
However without correcting the biomechanical issues, you are unlikely to completely get rid of this problem.
For example ice will temporarily reduce the inflammation but each time you walk or run with flat feet, or tight calf muscles, it will continue to become inflamed.
However if you use insoles to support and correct your arch, you will have immediately addressed the major cause of the problem and the inflammation should not keep being aggravated. Incidentally, insoles will also help resolution of other conditions like Achilles tendonitis, Morton’s neuroma, bunions, runner’s knee and stress fractures.
There are three options:
- Go to the pharmacist and get “off the shelf” pair (cheap approx $30, generic fit)
- Pay a sports orthopaedic podiatrist hundreds of dollars to get a pair custom built for you (super expensive customized fit $600-$1000)
- Check out TreadLabs Insoles for runners and cyclists (affordable approx $75, semi-customized fit)
Best Solution For Insoles For Plantar Fasciitis
TreadLabs is the best solution by far that we have found for this problem.
They provide semi customised durable, polypropylene arch support. With 4 different arch heights to suit your foot. Soft heel cushions do not help this problem. In the majority of cases the arch is at fault and this needs to be addressed. By inserting an insole, you will fairly instantly feel a benefit and know if it is working for you.
Treadlabs also design their insoles specifically for runners and cyclists.
Brilliant! This is rare. In my investigations, most of the generic “off the shelf” models are too thick and bulky to be inserted into running shoes. And cycling shoes- No chance!
What To Look Out For When Fitting Insoles For Plantar Fasciitis
There are a range of styles and sizes to suit everyone. Make sure you can return it if it does not fit or feel comfortable. With expensive, fully customised insoles you are unable to do this as they are made specifically for you. They can be adapted but they cannot be returned. However, with TreadLabs, you can buy insoles for plantar fasciitis, wear them, run in them to make sure they fit, that they actually work to reduce your pain and are comfortable. If. for whatever reason they do not work for you, simply return them within 30 days.
With this generous policy, if you are uncertain of your arch height, buy both, try them out then return the one that does not suit you for a full refund.
Check out the helpful fitting guide to help you choose the perfect fit.
In an insole look for one that
- controls pronation
- supports your arch
- cushions against shock
- helps your foot alignment
- is durable
- can get the top cover replaced when necessary
Stride is the most popular insole if you can remove the inner lining of your shoe.
Stride Short are great insoles for plantar fasciitis if you have no removable inner lining in your shoe.
Stride Thin are perfect for minimalist running shoes or cycling shoes.
Best Exercises For Plantar Fasciitis
Once you have your insoles, the correct exercises will help accelerate your recovery and prevent the pain coming back!
Here is what to do:
Stretch your calf muscles
Calf muscles in runners, cyclists and triathletes are often very tight.
They are strong, deep muscles so a 5 second stretch once a week will make no difference. Instead, make an effort for the next 4 weeks to do a strong stretch (that you CAN feel in your calf muscles) and hold for 30-40 seconds.
Repeat 3 times, twice a day
Strengthen your small foot muscles
Try to pick up a small hand towel with your toes. This activity strengthens the small muscles within the foot which can help support the plantar fascia. Practice this 2 minutes twice a day.
Roll the arch of your foot on a lacrosse ball, cricket ball, golf ball
When sitting at your desk, or watching TV, roll the arch of your foot on a hard ball like a golf ball. 2 minutes twice a day. Use reasonably firm pressure but it should not be agony! Start gently- it may feel quite tender at first but should ease as the fascia starts to soften.
Balance on one leg
It is surprising how many athletes have poor balance.
Practice standing one one leg and balancing for 1 minute twice a day. You should improve quickly. Be aware of moving about. Try to be stable, feel the small muscles in your foot working and relax your calf muscles. Engage the core. Focus. Once this is easy. Try it with closed eyes!
I am a fan of TreadLabs as I know just how expensive custom insoles can be. Before now, the only other alternative was the generic “off the shelf” models which may be ok if you just potter around your house. But for people who are active, they often do not fit athletic shoes and are not comfortable. Insoles for plantar fasciitis are an essential part of treatment for this condition as they help place the foot in an optimal position and reduce the strain on the plantar fascia.
Add in the exercises twice a day and within a week or two, you should be pain free again!
(Triathlon Hacks is an affiliate for TreadLabs which means if you buy from our link, we may be entitled to a cup of coffee. Whether you use our link or not, we do not mind, as we know this product will help so many people with plantar fasciitis get back to strapping their running shoes on again! But if this product is right for you, we would greatly appreciate your support)
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