Having an injury like plantar fasciitis can disrupt your fitness and day-to-day life but it doesn’t have to.
You can still weight lift while ensuring that your feet are taken care of so you don’t risk worsening your condition.
If you want to weight lift with plantar fasciitis, then you need to prioritize foot care in and out of the gym. This means, listening to your body cues, using athletic tape, shoe insoles and night splints.
You should avoid hard, uneven surfaces and choose exercises that won’t aggravate your feet.
In this article, I’ll discuss 7 tips for weightlifting with plantar fasciitis. But first…
What Is Plantar Fasciitis and How Does It Affect You?
Plantar fasciitis is a condition that affects the plantar fascia ligament that runs from your heel bone to your toes. This is a thick band of tissue that can become inflamed over time and cause small microtears to appear.
Generally, it’s something that affects runners, due to the repetitive strain on the feet and plantar fascia. However, it is also common in those who are overweight or don’t wear adequate supportive shoes.
It’s quite straightforward to tell if plantar fasciitis is something you’ve developed.
One of the first symptoms is a stabbing pain in your feet, particularly at the bottom of the foot toward the heel. This occurs usually upon awakening but can also be triggered if you’ve been standing for a prolonged period or getting up after sitting for a while.
Other symptoms include a feeling of tightness around the area, heel pain and tenderness.
Because the pain is in your foot, it can have an impact on your day-to-day life. Not only will it make everyday tasks more challenging, such as walking, but it can also take you out of the gym for a while or at least until the inflammation has eased.
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Does Lifting Weights Help or Hinder Plantar Fasciitis
When it comes to plantar fasciitis, does lifting weight help it or will it make it worse?
Well, according to this Scandinavian study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, strength training can have long term positive effects for plantar fasciitis.
In this study, one group of participants, the stretch group, were given shoe inserts and daily plantar-specific stretches and the other, the strength group, were assigned shoe inserts and high-load progressive strength exercises.
The groups reported on their confidence regarding foot function and reduction to pain on the foot-function index (FFI).
At the 12-month mark, the conclusion of the trial, the strength group self-reported 22 on the FFI while the stretch group landed on 16 on the index, hence illustrating that strength training may actually help plantar fasciitis.
Are You Ready To Start Lifting With Plantar Fasciitis?
Before getting back to the gym and strength training, you first have to assess whether this is the best course of action for you.
Some people will be ready to get back into it. For others; it really depends on your body.
So, if you’re eager to start lifting weights, first ensure that the inflammation has receded.
Don’t train if it’s still inflamed. That’s when you’re going to need to rest and recover.
If the inflammation has gone down, then it’s up to your discretion whether the pain is high or mild.
If it’s high, then again, take a break from lifting. If it’s mild and you feel comfortable lifting, then head to the gym but make sure you take it slow.
As always, when dealing with injuries, seek proper medical advice from a qualified professional before starting an exercise routine.
7 Tips for Weight Lifting With Plantar Fasciitis
If you’ve decided to go back to weight lifting, here are 7 tips to follow:
1. Pay Attention and Listen to Your Body
While we will be giving you a list of exercises to do below, everyone is different so what might work for you might not work for others.
This is why you have to really pay attention to your body. It’ll tell you when to push it, how to push it and most importantly when to stop.
There’s a difference between pushing past your comfort zone and pushing past pain.
2. Warm-up Your Feet
Warming up has always been a pivotal part of lifting. However, it becomes even more important to focus on your feet if you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis. Don’t neglect to do calf, ankle and feet-specific warm-up exercises so that you can properly prepare for your weight lifting session and keep the risk of re-injuring or hurting your feet even more.
There are different stretches that you can add to your warm-up routine, both with and without the use of equipment. A slant board, for example, is a common accessory to use for feet warm-ups, not to mention, easy to put together at home. Just grab a slanted wooden board that is sturdy enough to stand on.
Even just standing on the slant board is enough to give your plantar fascia a stretch. Keep your toes higher than your heels with your knees slightly bent. Maintain this position for 1-minute and repeat 3 times.
3. Use Insoles
Shoes used for athletic or training reasons tend to come with an arched insole. However, if you want to use other types of shoes or just want more of that foot support while weight lifting, then consider using insoles.
Using insoles in your shoes can help add support to your feet and help aid recovery, not to mention, reduce the risk of further injury.
Insoles are inserted into your shoes that give your feet more shape, particularly in the arch. This is important because, without this reinforced support, you run the risk of flattening the plantar fascia, even more, causing inflammation. It’ll reduce the impact of each step you take and cushion the area to reduce the pain.
While there are generic insoles that you can purchase over-the-counter, if you really want to take care of your feet while weight lifting or just in day-to-day life, then you can get custom-made insoles. A podiatrist (foot doctor) can take moulds of your feet to create personalized shoe inserts.
4. Tape Your Feet
Another tip for weight lifting with plantar fasciitis is to tape your feet. Taping the affected area will assist in reducing the inflammation. Not to mention, it’ll also compress the area so that it’ll stabilize the ligament and limit movement.
In addition, taping your feet will relieve stress and pressure from that area.
5. Be Wary of Hard, Uneven Surfaces
Where you weight lift can also make a difference to how your ability to train with plantar fasciitis. Avoid hard surfaces like concrete, especially if they’re uneven. This can put too much stress on your feet, causing them to swell or become painful.
Instead, find an area that has a soft or cushioned, even surface to limit the impact on your feet.
For example, try to work out in a gym that has floor mats so that you can have a solid surface to lift from but without the extra foot pressure.
6. Ice Your Feet After Weight Lifting
Take proper care of your feet after you weight lift. Doing so can aid recovery from plantar fasciitis and weight lifting. Cold therapy works by shrinking blood vessels beneath the skin, reducing blood flow to the area and hence, swelling.
When icing your feet, do it for 10-20 minutes to maximize effects. But be careful not to apply ice directly to your skin as this can cause other issues such as frostbite.
Wrap your icepack in a hand towel or paper towel or anything else that’ll act as a barrier between the ice and your body.
Don’t keep the ice on your feet for longer than 20-minutes and take it off immediately if you lose sensation in your feet or experience pins and needles.
7. Take Care of Your Feet Outside of Training
What you do outside of weight lifting can make a significant difference to your performance in the gym as well as how much plantar fasciitis will affect you. This means ensuring that you see a specialist who is knowledgeable about this condition, doing your rehab exercises and stretches and most importantly, resting your feet in between.
You can also use additional accessories to aid your recovery such as using night splints.
Wearing these while you sleep will keep your foot in a gently stretched position, as opposed to the typical toes-pointing-down stance, to reduce morning stabbing pains that are associated with plantar fasciitis.
It’ll also improve blood flow and circulation. If you want a more lightweight, comfortable option, then sock night splints are also available.
Wear shoes with shoe inserts whenever you can and try to avoid going barefoot. You want to give your feet as much arch support as possible, at all times.
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Exercises You Can Do With Plantar Fasciitis (Using Fitbod)
Stick to low-impact weight lifting exercises that’ll help you build strength without aggravating your feet. Fortunately, there are many movements that are still available to you:
- Tricep dips
- Bench press
- Wide Grip Seated Row
- Seated Machine Shoulder Press
- Russian twists
- Leg curl
- Leg extension
- Weighted back extension
If you’re looking for a workout that’ll be generated for you that’ll help you exercise with plantar fasciitis, then check out the FitBod app.
FitBod has the ability to customize training plans and can even give you options to streamline the process. For example, try choosing the Upper Body Only or 15m Core options that’ll give you a workout without stressing your feet too much.
Plantar fasciitis is a common injury that can disrupt your weight lifting.
However, if the inflammation has receded, the pain is mild and you feel comfortable getting back to the gym, then you can do so at a slow pace.
Be sure that you take precautions, both in and out of the gym, so you can get the most out of your training without compromising the condition of your feet.
About The Author
As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.