Plantar Fasciitis: The Underestimated (But Fixable) Plague of Athletes

runner with plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a ligament (a thick band of fibrous tissue) on the bottom of the foot that connects the heel bone to the toes. While it may not be one of the more common medical household terms, the condition has been an official diagnosis since the 1970s. In fact, approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population experiences bouts of heel pain, which results in one million visits per year to medical professionals for treatment of plantar fasciitis.

The inflammation of the plantar fascia can be caused by a number of issues, including foot mechanics, obesity and certain types of exercise, most notably running or jumping. Unfortunately, it is the latter that makes it one of the more common injuries for professional athletes, whose livelihoods solely rely on performing these very acts.

Here are just some well-known athletes that have battled with plantar fasciitis during their athletic careers:

Albert Pujols

José Alberto Pujols Alcántar—better known as Albert Pujols— is a first baseman for the Los Angeles Angels that dealt with plantar fasciitis for almost a decade, forcing him to sit out numerous times. Eventually, in 2015, he elected to have surgery to correct the condition, putting him on the disabled list for that year.

Ryan Hall

Ryan Hall is a renowned long-distance Olympic runner who was the first U.S. runner to break the one-hour barrier in the half marathon. In 2016, Hall officially announced his retirement from the sport due to the harmful effects it had on his body, including a bout with plantar fasciitis.

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning is a retired 18-season American football quarterback. Manning has a long track record of wins, losses, championships and injuries during his career, including developing plantar fasciitis during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2015.

Stephanie Catley

Stephanie Catley was sidelined at halftime at the Matildas’ World Cup exit game in 2015 after succumbing to a heel injury that was later revealed to be plantar fasciitis and bone bruising.

Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd—the current Head Coach of the Milwaukee Bucks—is a former 10-time National Basketball League (NBA) All-Star, a five-time All-NBA First Team member and a nine-time NBA All-Defensive Team member. All of that success, unfortunately, did a number on his body, including plantar fasciitis.

In short, plantar fasciitis does not discriminate; from the professional athlete to the weekend warrior and the student-athlete, plantar fasciitis can be found in athletes of all activity levels. That said, how is such a widely-dispersed problem treated? The solution may be both simple and noninvasive: custom orthotics.

What can custom orthotics do for plantar fasciitis?

Also known as prescription orthotics, custom orthotics are created by a podiatrist using high-quality materials and are designed exclusively for an athlete’s foot. They are crafted for a variety of reasons, including pain alleviation, correcting foot function and provide support to both help plantar fasciitis heal as well as potentially prevent the injury from occurring again (if foot dysfunction is the issue). Jason Kidd, the aforementioned basketball player, currently uses orthotics to manage pain from his condition from his days on the court.

Combined with other treatment modalities, custom orthotics can be an easy and comfortable solution for athletes everywhere.

For more information about prescription orthotics or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, contact Essex Union Podiatry today.