A thick band of tissue that runs from the heel bone to the toes (plantar fascia) is a common source of heel-related pain. The pain is especially noticeable for plantar fasciitis sufferers when taking the first steps of the day. Even so, there may flare-ups at other times of the day. One way to eliminate this type of heel pain is with plantar fascistic heel cups.
What Are Heel Cups?
Plantar fascistic heel cups are heel-shaped pads that are inserted into shoes. They are designed to elevate the heel enough to ease tension and provide added cushioning to minimize direct pressure on the plantar fascia. Heel cups placed in shoes also help keep the foot become more stable by improving alignment with corresponding structures – e.g., ankles, knees, and hips.
Why Does Improved Alignment Matter?
Plantar fasciitis is like any other soft tissue injury in that added pressure from any source can trigger inflammation and make the pain worse. Restored foot alignment also matters because it’s what can counter the effects of supination and over-pronation.
Supination refers to the weight that’s placed on the foot while running or walking. Over-pronation is when arches of the foot roll excessively inward or downward when walking. This type of correction can ultimately mean less heel and foot pain and even reduced back-related and shoulder discomfort.
How Is the Ability to Walk Affected?
Properly-fitting heel cups can also impact the way a plantar fasciitis sufferer walks. Restored alignment can improve the way weight is distributed on the foot and heel. A “normal gait” is one that distributes weight in a way that prevents too much pressure from being placed on any single area. An abnormal gait pattern that may be affecting heel tissues can be identified by the wear pattern seen in shoes.
What Do Heel Cups Do for Heels?
If heels are too low or too thin, the extra pressure on soft tissues can contribute to plantar fasciitis. Heel cups can provide a heel lift that shifts pressure from the heel area to the forefoot. The result can be less pain from irritated plantar fascia tissue.
How Is Arch Support Affected?
A lack of sufficient arch support can also worsen plantar fasciitis pain. Certain types of heel cups have contoured inserts designed to provide extra arch support. This added support can be especially beneficial for individuals with plantar fasciitis aggravated by flat feet. Certain heel cups are specially designed for wearers with arch issues that are contributing to plantar fasciitis symptoms.
How Are Heel Cups Used?
Since heel cups are meant to be inserted into shoes, the shoes worn need to have a removable insert. This is necessary so the necessary depth is available to fit the heel cup in each shoe. Heel cups can be made from several different materials, including thermoplastic or firm foam. Individuals with plantar fasciitis are often advised to look for heel cups designed to address their unique sources of heel pain.
How Should They Be Worn?
Heel cups for plantar fascistic pain should be worn over socks inside normal footwear with removal inserts. When heel cups are first worn, the wearer may be advised to first use them for only part of the day for the first week or so until it becomes more comfortable to regularly wear shoes with heel cups inside.
Plantar fascistic heel cups may provide welcome relief from heel pain, especially if the heel cups hug the heel correctly so sufficient cushioning and support are offered. However, it’s just as important for sufferers of plantar fasciitis to take steps to minimize flare-ups by avoiding exercises that are too stressful on feet and evenly distributing weight when walking.