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Obesity and Plantar Fasciitis – Understanding the Connection

Being overweight or obese can significantly increase the likelihood of developing plantar fasciitis, a painful condition that affects the heel. The excess weight puts added stress on the plantar fascia, the band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. This increased pressure can lead to inflammation and micro-tears in the plantar fascia, resulting in heel pain and discomfort. It is important for individuals who are overweight to be aware of this potential risk and take steps to manage their weight and alleviate the strain on their feet. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and wearing supportive footwear can all contribute to reducing the risk of developing plantar fasciitis.

Foot problems can be quite intricate and tend to deteriorate as you subject them to increased strain over time. If left untreated, these issues could potentially result in disability and hinder your mobility. It is crucial to seek appropriate treatment to prevent long-term consequences.

1. Changes in Gait

In addition to its well-known health risks, obesity has been associated with a range of complications, including gait disorders. Such disorders can significantly impact one’s ability to walk, thereby increasing the likelihood of falls and self-inflicted injuries. These consequences further underline the importance of maintaining a healthy weight to ensure optimal mobility and reduce the risk of physical harm.

Gait disorders can be caused by an underlying medical condition, physical injury, or even age itself – they tend to be more prevalent among elderly individuals.

Gait is an intricate series of movements involving your brain, muscles, bones and joints working in concert. A gait disorder could indicate that something is amiss with one or more of these systems.

2. Tight Achilles Tendons

Obesity not only puts extra strain on the feet and ankle, but it can also cause Achilles tendons to tighten up – leading to Achilles tendinitis.

Tendons that are too tight can be an issue for runners and other athletes who engage in activities such as running, stair climbing, sprinting or jumping. But it can also happen to people with naturally flat feet or tight calf muscles.

The good news is that self-care measures and physiotherapy exercises can improve symptoms. These include range-of-motion techniques (self-stretching and manual therapy) to help the Achilles tendon stretch and recover. They may also include stretches and strengthening exercises using eccentric motion, which gradually lengthens the tendon over time.

3. Poor Foot Biomechanics

Obesity can have a detrimental effect on many aspects of your health, such as heart and blood pressure, diabetes and bone density. But it doesn’t just affect your hands – obesity may also impact the soles of your feet!

Over time, foot problems can develop if your feet roll too far inwards (overpronation) or outwards (supination). This causes bones to shift out of alignment and puts undue strain on them.

Conditions such as bunions, toe deformities, metatarsalgia (forefoot pain), fallen arches and sprains can develop due to overuse.

Plantar fasciitis is a condition that may develop due to improper foot biomechanics, particularly among those who are overweight or obese. This condition causes inflammation of the dense strip of shock-absorbing tissue running from your heel to your toes.

4. Increased Stress on the Plantar Fascia

Obesity puts an immense amount of strain on the plantar fascia, which runs from heel to front of foot and supports your arch while you walk.

When overstrained, the Achilles tendon causes microtears and inflammation. Over time, these tears can calcify into heel spurs.

This can be uncomfortable and make it difficult to perform activities such as walking, running or any other strenuous physical endeavors.

Fortunately, the increased stress on your plantar fascia can be alleviated through weight loss and regular stretching of feet and calf muscles. It may also help you switch activities to low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling which reduces stress on feet and helps prevent injuries.


You might also like to read:

Plantar Fasciitis
Incorporating Alternative Therapies into Your Plantar Fasciitis Treatment Plan
Plantar Fasciitis and Footwear: Choosing the Right Shoes for Support and Comfort

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