I am a teacher, parent, and fitness writer. I have struggled with knee and heel pain since running a triathlon in 2010.
How Nike Air Max Shoes Helped Cure My Plantar Fasciitis
The heel pain from plantar fasciitis is a nagging, painful condition that can really take the fun out of life. I know; I had it for the better part of an entire year. But I finally found relief from a pair of Nike shoes—Nike Air Max shoes, to be exact. There's something about the cushion in a pair of these shoes that helps plantar fasciitis. They're the best running shoes I've found for this condition.
Plantar fasciitis usually starts after increased activity involving your feet, such as running. Weight gain can also cause this condition, due to the added impact on your feet. The essential problem is irritation and inflammation of the broad band of cartilage that stretches from your calf muscle down to the bottom of your foot. Your heel bone hits this tissue every time you take a step, and if the pressure increases, through running or weight gain, you can wind up with a seriously aggravating pain in your feet.
The Shoes That Got Me Through My Heel Pain
I'm a little older but in great shape. My heel pain started after one day when I jogged a little too far, a little too fast. It did not take much! From small beginnings, it got worse and worse until just walking felt terrible. I tried all kinds of treatment for my heel pain, including wraps, braces, and slings. Some of them helped a little, but the thing that really fixed me up was this pair of Nike AIR MAX running shoes. The heel unit in Air Max models has the ability to cushion your heels each time they hit the ground. For me it was a life-saver.
Do You Have Plantar Fasciitis?
If you have been noticing a nagging, aching pain in your heels, you may have plantar fasciitis. It starts when the band of ligaments that run under your heel, your "plantar fascia," gets insulted by being banged against the bones of your heel. This typically starts when you begin a new running regime, or start walking/running up hills. The irony is that you're trying to get in shape, running and jogging, and because of that you get a painful condition that keeps you from running! Every step smashes the band of connective tissue against the knobby bone of your bottom heel, and over time it can damage the tendon. When this happens, your plantar fascia becomes inflamed and painful; as a result, every step hurts.
This Mayo Clinic Video Explains Plantar Fasciitis
How I Got Plantar Fasciitis
I'm a healthy, active man who will never see 40 again. Two years ago I decided, as part of a comprehensive physical fitness regimen, to attempt my first-ever triathlon—or, to be accurate, my first-ever half (sprint) triathlon. I LOVED it. I finished pretty far back, but I finished. And I felt fine!
After the triathlon, I rested for a week. Then I went for a big run with a friend of mine, and I pushed it a little by going on hills (all my training and the race were on flat ground). That did it! Within another week, I was a hobbling wreck. A little online research told me that, yes, I had the dreaded plantar fasciitis.
Running too hard, especially on unfamiliar terrain, is the most common cause of plantar fasciitis. It seemed totally unfair. After all, I got active, got up and started jogging or walking, started losing weight, and then—bam!
Not surprisingly, plantar fasciitis due to increased activity is a growing problem among amateur athletes, especially us baby boomers. We're start getting up there, and when start strapping on the running shoes in the hopes of losing a few pounds, we're really asking for it. The increased pounding can irritate the plantar fascia, that band of connective tissue under your foot. The heel bone is pointy, and as it hits that tissue you can cause damage that takes weeks or months to fix. Fortunately, Nike running shoes came to my rescue.
What Causes the Heel Pain of Plantar Fasciitis?
This excellent article from WedMD explains it all. Straight from the doctor's mouth, the process by which your healthy heel gradually becomes painful. Inflamed tendons are just part of the story.
Delicious, But Hard on Your Heels
Weight Gain and Plantar Fasciitis
This wasn't the cause of my heel pain, but plenty of other people get plantar fasciitis simply by gaining weight. This cause of the condition is really a matter of common sense: if you eat a lot, you'll probably gain weight. And guess which part of your body suffers the most from your gain? That's right, your feet. Every "foot strike," as your foot hits the ground when you walk or run, is an insult to that band of connective tissue under your foot. Lose some of that weight, and you're on your way to relieving that constant aggravation on your poor heels.
Of course, it's also true that the more your feet hurt, the harder it is to walk or run. This is a vicious circle. For me, the inability to get up and get active was almost worse than the pain itself.
I Used a Body Fat Scale to Stay Light and Help My Heels Heal
Part of the issue with my Plantar Fasciitis was a little extra weight that I had put on over the holidays. I have written elsewhere at length about the difference between losing weight and losing fat, and part of the story is my faithful use of a quality body composition scale. Body composition scales can tell you more about your body than just your weight. If you're trying to lose weight, make sure that it's fat you're losing, and not muscle mass. Staying fit is a matter of keeping muscle and losing fat, not the other way around. Using a standard, old-fashioned scale, you only learn the number of pounds or kilos that you weigh. Using a quality high-tech body fat scale, you will instantly learn the percent of fat versus muscle and bone in your body. Then you can attack the fat and keep the muscle.
You can read more about body fat smart scales right here in my guide to your ten best choices.
How Did Nike AirMax Running Shoes Help Cure Me?
Air Max shoes have a special heel unit that is built into every style and edition. The AirMax heel unit cushions the "heel strike" and gives your poor heels a chance to recover without being pounded every day when you walk.
This is how I finally beat plantar fasciitis, after nearly four months of suffering. I was getting desperate after dealing with this awful condition for so long, and finding these shoes felt like a miracle. There is something about the heel unit in Nike Air Max running shoes that just worked for me. At this point I own three pairs, including the original pair that I have worn for so long that my wife kept trying to "accidentally" get rid of them. Ultimately I got her to buy a pair. She had to admit that I was on to something.
The First Running Shoe Began With a Waffle Iron
This story has been told many times, but the basics never change: Bill Bowerman, who was working with a Japanese shoe company that later became ASICS, was approached by the University of Oregon to create a shoe that would grip the new surface of their athletic field. Spikes would tear the new surface up, but a smooth sole would be too slippery on the artificial surface. Bowerman had to devise a shoe that would provide traction without damaging the track.
Like any good inventor, Bowerman mulled the issue constantly for several days. Then, waiting for his breakfast waffles, he experienced a Eureka moment. His wife remembers what happened:
"As one of the waffles came out, [Bill] said, 'You know, by turning it upside down to where the waffle part would come in contact with the track, I think that might work.' So he got up from the table and went tearing into his lab and got two cans of whatever it is you pour together to make the urethane, and poured them into the waffle iron."
The waffle iron may have never the same, but there's no question that the shoe world was changed forever.
Surgery for Plantar Fasciitis
This is obviously a drastic step, but if your plantar fasciitis simply will not resolve then you may find yourself going under the knife. Results of surgery for this condition are not always the best, according to numerous chat boards I visited while weighing my options. My heel pain never got bad enough for surgery, but there were days when I was close. Still, if your condition is bad enough, you may want to consider this procedure. The surgeon will attempt to clean out scar tissue and possibly smooth the point of impact so the plantar fascia can recover on its own.
More Help for Your Aching Heels
I did try the Mueller Plantar Fasciitis sling, and it did help me a little. But I had trouble sleeping with it, which is a requirement for this method. It's a common and inexpensive option, though, and would wouldn't hurt in combination with a good pair of Air Max running shoes worn during the day.
Do You Have Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis Prognosis and Outcomes
Plantar fasciitis can last for an unbelievably long time—after all, every time you take a step you are basically re-injuring yourself. Many times the pain fades away, seemingly on its own. The braces and shoes mentioned above can speed the process of healing, and without them you're looking at up to six months of hobbling before symptoms completely resolve. That was one of the worst parts for me. I felt like an old man, walking around achey and cranky, and it did seem to last forever.
Long May You Run!
The following sources were used for this guide:
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.