This is a sensitive subject for both patients and healthcare professionals as a large number of health conditions are linked to obesity or being overweight including heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, arthritis etc. Plantar fasciiitis is no exception and so when patients are advised that their heel pain is caused be being overweight and that losing weight will help their heel pain, there is a degree of scepticism. So is it is fair to blame excess body weight as a contributing cause of plantar heel pain?
It has been proven that the higher a person’s total body weight (body mass index), the higher the peak pressure placed on the foot as this is the body’s main weight bearing support structure during standing. This excessive peak pressure placed on the heel is believed to be a primary risk factor for the development of plantar fasciitis due to overload stress placed on the tissue. Research indicates that individuals with a BMI >30kg/m2 are 5 times more likely to develop plantar heel pain than individuals with a BMI of <25kg/m2. If you would like to learn more about the research on obesity and plantar fasciitis check out my blog article here
If you are overweight and suffer from plantar fasciitis it is of paramount importance that you include weight loss as part of your treatment plan. Some readers may not like or want to read this, however it's the truth. Ignoring this simple component may prevent you from gaining the most out of your treatment as carrying excess weight is linked to plantar fasciitis. This does not mean that losing weight is the key to curing plantar fasciitis as there are many people with a health body weight that suffer with plantar fasciitis, but by losing weight you are addressing one of the most significant causes. Weight loss can be achieved in a number of ways. Among the most effective are diet and exercise. Understandably, this is easier said than done however there are many weight loss programmes readily available that can help you achieve this.
With regards to exercise as a weight loss method, I recommend low-impact activities such as cycling, using a cross trainer, rowing machine or swimming as these will not cause impact related pain to the heel. Running, particularly on a hard surface is not recommended until you can tolerate other less strenuous activities such as walking pain free as running may worsen your plantar fasciitis as it is a high impact activity. If you would like to learn more about plantar fasciitis friendly exercises check out my blog article here