Jan 29, 2015
Failed By a Foot

Last week, plantar fasciitis ended the season of Major League Baseball star Albert Pujols, making him the latest in a long line of athletes sidelined by the soft tissue injury. So what’s the cause of this painful foot injury that’s bringing elite athletes and weekend warriors alike to their knees?
Caused by tiny tears of the plantar fascia, the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot, plantar fasciitis can result from overuse, weight gain, or advancing age. Robert Klapper, Chief of Orthopedic Surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Group in Los Angeles, believes that for most athletes, sports specialization at a young age and a lack of stretching are the biggest culprits.

“Cross training is so valuable, and it used to come quite naturally,” Klapper told USA Today Sports. “We’ve lost that.”

In addition, Klapper says today’s athletes aren’t spending enough time doing calf stretches, which he says help ward off plantar fasciitis and the closely related condition, Achilles tendinitis.

Bal Rajagopalan, a Beverly Hills, Calif., orthopedic surgeon, believes that proper shoes can help athletes avoid chronic plantar fasciitis.

“Naturally flat-footed people are more prone to plantar fasciitis,” he told USA Today. “They should be wearing sneakers with high arches. Sometimes you see athletes wearing these minimalist shoes with little or no cushioning. That’s horrendous. They are bound to have problems.”

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