Working at a Standing Desk Can Irritate the Plantar Fascia and Cause Heel Pain

Pregnant Woman Standing At DeskMany people are likely able to recall a time or times when various parts of their body felt very stiff, almost to the point of numbness, after remaining seated in the same position for a prolonged period of time. Long car rides, airplane flights, and even falling asleep in a chair in front of the television can produce such feelings, and it can take a few minutes for blood circulation to restore itself to an appropriate level.

But these experiences are not limited to the personal sides of life; sitting for an extended period can also be an element of one’s employment, as seen in such as roles as:

  • Aircraft pilot
  • Long-haul trucker
  • Barber or hairdresser
  • Computer programmer
  • Office/administrative jobs

It is well-accepted that sitting for too long, and too often, might be detrimental to overall health, as it can increase the risks of such conditions as heart disease, diabetes, varicose veins, and muscle degeneration.  Therefore, it is highly recommended that people simply get up and move about often instead of staying seated for hours on end; this in turn has led to some creative ideas/solutions including the standing desk, which allows individuals to address situations of prolonged sitting while remaining at their respective workstation.

However, this solution may unfortunately be the genesis of another health concern: foot or heel pain due to people actually standing too long during a work day. This is because the plantar fascia is not designed or intended to withstand the strain caused by spending excessive amounts of time standing on one’s feet.

The plantar fascia is the thick connective tissue that supports the arch of the foot; it runs from the heel bone forward to the bones that lie between each toe and those of the mid-foot. Individuals who have experienced plantar fascia pain, often due to inflammation of this connective tissue (i.e.: plantar fasciitis) or perhaps a plantar fascia tear or rupture, will undoubtedly attest to the intensity and severity of such discomfort – including the inability to bear much if any weight on the affected foot.

Another condition commonly associated with plantar fasciitis is a heel spur, a build-up of calcium deposits on the underside of the heel bone; this happens when the plantar fascia is strained, stretched, and/or inflamed.  Individuals whose activities include considerable amounts of standing, running, or jumping are prone to heel spur formation.

In addition to excessive/prolonged standing and certain forms of exercise (e.g.: running, dancing, aerobics), other risk factors most often associated with plantar fasciitis include:

  • Age – more commonly seen between 40 and 60 years
  • Foot-related features – arch structure; walking patterns
  • Weight/obesity and/or the improper selection of footwear

Some of the common signs of a plantar fascia strain or tear/rupture would include:

  • Cramping or tightness of the foot
  • An inability to bear weight on the foot
  • Heel pain, especially when first standing up
  • A burning sensation along the base of the foot
  • Cramps in the legs/calves and/or lower back pain

Ignoring such signs or attempting to tolerate plantar fascia pain can in fact cause further damage to the heels, feet, legs, and/or the lower back. It will therefore be important to address the situation appropriately, either through at-home exercises or by seeing a foot care professional at the Comfort Stride Foot Care Clinic in Scarborough.

Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis Can Include Several Different Foot Exercises

Business People Standing At DeskWhile foot and heel pain can be highly inconvenient and uncomfortable, the treatment of plantar fasciitis fortunately does not require surgical intervention. There are a number of specific plantar fascia exercises that can be done at home or at work, or while in a car or on a plane, that can help to ease the pain and inflammation of this condition.

Some of the easy-to-do exercises for relieving plantar fascia pain would consist of:

  • Stretching – bend the foot upward and gently pull on the toes for several seconds at a time, and repeat this a few times per foot
  • Massaging – place a soft rubber ball or tennis ball under the arch of the foot and roll the ball around for several minutes per day while applying gentle pressure
  • Icing – apply cold to the heel of the foot for approximately ten minutes, using a bag of ice, a frozen bottle of water, or a bag of frozen vegetables
  • Flexing (stretch the calves) – slip a towel around the ball of the foot and gently pull up toward the body; hold for several seconds and repeat a few times per leg

Foot pain due to plantar fasciitis can be very detrimental to a happy and active lifestyle; yet despite one’s best intentions and effort, implementing the above-noted plantar fascia exercises might not be sufficient to resolve a particular situation. Hence, if foot or heel pain persists and one finds their mobility and/or ability to work are being impaired, they may benefit from a professional consultation with a qualified podiatrist from the Comfort Stride Foot Care Clinic.

In such cases, the podiatrist can help identify the cause of the pain then offer treatment options that might include one or more of the following:

  • Custom orthotics
  • Footwear modifications
  • Lifestyle recommendations
  • Physiotherapy or hot/cold therapy
  • Different types of foot/leg exercises

For further information on the treatment of plantar fasciitis or other forms of foot or heel pain by a certified podiatrist from Comfort Stride Foot Care Clinic in Scarborough, please go to our Foot Care Services page.

If you are having plantar fascia pain and at-home exercises have proven ineffective, Call the Comfort Stride Foot Care Clinic today at 647-989-7794 to schedule a consultation with a qualified podiatrist to determine the cause and the best course of treatment.


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