Foot conditions like heel spurs typically appear in older patients, but they are also common in athletes, particularly joggers. If you have already undergone foot surgery to correct heel spurs or the associated condition plantar fasciitis in the past, you may be wondering how to proceed with your healthy lifestyle without causing a painful recurrence. These four adjustments to your exercise habits can help you avoid another trip under the surgeon's knife.
Jogging on Softer Surfaces
Plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are a sign of trauma to your foot's heel and arch, often accompanied by a loss of fat in the heel pad. This can be exacerbated if you frequently jog on hard surfaces like asphalt and concrete. As you recover from surgery and gradually begin running again, consider finding trail systems at a local park for at least some of your jogging days. Running over softer dirt pathways can cushion your foot, giving it time to recover and preventing gradual inflammation buildup that can lead to new heel spurs.
Investing in Higher Quality Shoes
If you keep your jogging shoes until they start growing holes and then buy any old pair to replace them, you may want to reconsider your habits. A good pair of running shoes can absorb more of the impact of your feet hitting the ground, which is especially important for individuals with flat arches or thin heel pads. Invest in higher quality shoes designed for your foot shape, and replace them once the heels start showing wear and tear.
Stretching Your Feet
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the ligaments in your feet grow stiff and painful, and the condition is closely associated with heel spurs. With that in mind, treating and preventing plantar fasciitis may improve your heel spurs as well. One of the easiest ways to keep your ligaments healthy is to stretch them out before jogging. Try standing on a stair or similarly short ledge on the balls of your feet, with your heels protruding over empty space. Then raise and lower yourself, allowing the tissues along the bottom of your feet to flex and stretch and hopefully discouraging plantar fasciitis.
Wearing Prosthetic Heel Supports
In severe cases, you may need to wear prosthetic heel supports, which range from gel inserts to more rigid braces. Heel spur cups are especially popular, adding some extra cushion to your heel without being visible or throwing off your gait. Consult with your foot surgeon or doctor for his or her recommendations, and then experiment to find which product works best for you. By changing your exercise routine and paying more attention to your feet's health, you can save yourself the expense and downtime of future surgeries for your heel spurs.
Contact a foot and ankle surgeon or clinic for more tips.