I'm slowly getting better but it's been over 6 months now, and I'm still suffering from plantar fasciitis on my plant foot.
To those who might not be familiar with plantar faciitis, it's a tear in the tough, fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot, connecting the ball of your foot to your heel bone. Most people are more familiar with the term "heel spur", but heel spurs don't always coincide with plantar fasciitis. Once you get it, icing down the foot after exercise and large doses of ibuprofen help, but it can still be really painful sometimes. With plantar fasciitis, you feel a really sharp pain deep within the center of your heel. With every step it feels as though you just stepped on a piece of glass. The plantar fascia is some really tough tissue, but when it tears it takes forever to heal. As I mentioned earlier, I've had it for over half a year now, and I understand that this condition can linger for 1-2 years!
I feel it's important to post this information on this forum because plantar fasciitis is a common injury for our sport, and all disc golfers should be aware of the condition and maintain healthy feet. Those people at risk of developing plantar fasciitis are people who put a lot of repetitive stress on their feet, either from jumping or spinning. For example, plantar fasciitis is also common among basketball players and dancers. Those who are overweight are also at a higher risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
Anyway, when disc golfers throw a backhand with a traditional x-step, it's that last step on the plant foot that puts us at risk. Because of the weight transfer up to the plant foot at the end of the throw, coupled with a big explosion through the hit, there is a tremendous amount of twisting, downward force on the plant foot. Just after the hit, most people will do a quick 90 degree twist on their heel, others will spin on the ball of their foot. However you follow through on your plant foot, the plantar fascia is being stressed.
Here are some disc golf tips to having healthy feet:
1. Wear good shoes. Don't play disc golf with cheap shoes! I would recommend some kind of hiking shoe (Salomons are great). They should at least be some kind of athletic shoes with lots of arch support. I would also recommend shoe inserts (Dr. Scholls, whatever) for additional cushioning and support.
2. Stretch your calf muscles. Before and during your round, take time to ensure that your calf muscles are fully stretched and loose. The calf muscle includes the achilles tendon and runs all the way down to your heel bone and affects your plantar fascia. Playing disc golf with tight calf muscles puts your feet at risk.
3. Stay light on your feet during your x-step. If you are heavy-footed during your x-step, you are placing more weight, and more stress, on your feet.
4. Maintain a good body weight.
For the hardcore players who might play several rounds a day, I would also recommend a 10-15 minute ice bath for your feet after you finish, even if your feet don't feel sore. Ice baths are not comfortable at first, but you get used to it after awhile, and the ice bath will quickly remove any inflammation and keep your feet in top condition.
Anyway, I hope this information helps. Unfortunately I learned all of this the hard way. Trust me: plantar fasciitis sucks. You don't want it. If you do get it it, you will experience pain for the next 1-2 years.
Play smart and have fun!
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