Is Cycling Good For Plantar Fasciitis?

Cycling is a sports activity that most people enjoy globally. It is appealing to beginners and experts alike as it offers clean energy and is a terrific low-impact exercise. Therefore, it is the most popular exercise among individuals suffering from heel pain.

What is plantar fasciitis? It is a pain that results from the inflammation of the thick band of tissues at the bottom of your foot. It connects your heel bone and the toes. As the leading cause of heel pain, it affects between 1 and 2 million Americans yearly.

Plantar fasciitis can cause excruciating pain, interfering with your daily activities. Usually, it results from overdue micro-tears of the plantar fascia. The pain usually starts small and intensifies after prolonged sitting. More so, if you are a fitness person, it can be devastating not to exercise appropriately.

Are you suffering from plantar fasciitis and wondering whether cycling is a great exercise? Or are you a beginner wondering whether cycling causes plantar fasciitis? I’m here to help you have a clear understanding of how to utilize cycling with plantar fasciitis safely.

Does Cycling Cause Plantar Fasciitis? 

No, cycling does not cause plantar fasciitis. Instead, it provides a solution to this problem when done correctly. It is a low-impact exercise requiring minimal repetitive force contact between the feet and the ground.

While cycling does not cause this type of heel pain, a lack of proper precautions can aggravate the problem. For instance, incorrect riding techniques, poor choice of footwear, and bike fit can exacerbate the condition.

Plantar Fasciitis pain

What Are The Risk Factors Contributing To The Development Of Plantar Fasciitis?

  • Age: Adults between 40 and 60 years are at a higher risk of developing this condition than youth.
  • High-impact exercises: Some exercises like long-distance running, ballet, and other aerobics that stress the heel can contribute to this problem. If in pain, avoid having such practices often.
  • Foot mechanics: flat feet, high arches, and uneven weight distribution and stress.
  • Obesity: Adding weight stresses the feet with every step. Weight loss can be a significant step toward preventing the development of this painful condition.
  • Professionalism: Some professions that involve long-term standing, like teaching, nursing, and factory work, can predispose one to develop this condition. Having the proper footwear and exercising can prevent this risk from developing.

What Are The Dos And Don’ts Of Exercising?

  • Ensure your sports shoes have proper arch and heel support
  • Buy shoes regularly, ensuring the provision of continuous support and cushioning
  • Opt for low-impact exercises like cycling, swimming, and yoga
  • Stretch the calves and feet before and after exercise
  • Avoid high-impact exercises like running, ballet, or jumping
  • Practice simple exercises like stretching your calves, Achilles tendons, and foot bottom to strengthen the ankle muscles and prevent plantar fasciitis

How Do You Cycle With Plantar Fasciitis?

You are reading the right article. Have you been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and would love to continue cycling? Are you wondering what the best approach is to continue enjoying cycling without causing further damage to your foot?

It is essential to understand that cycling works out different muscles. If you have previously been engaged in high-impact sports, diving into intense cycling could be tempting. However, consider starting with low and short-distance cycling and working up to longer once the pain disappears to avoid stressing the foot further.

Also, wear orthotic inserts to offer support for your heels and arches.

Cyclist foot close up

How Do I Avoid Heel Pain While Cycling? 

While cycling is a low-impact exercise compared to other practices that stress the foot muscles, it still has the potential to cause plantar fasciitis. Any activity that involves the feet, arches, or heels has the potential to cause this problem.

I suggest avoiding any hilly terrain and refrain from sprinting at the end of a ride!

How do you prevent developing foot pain while cycling? Below are some safety tips you can use to save yourself from excruciating pain resulting from this condition.

Six Tips To Avoid Heel Pain While Cycling

Bike fit

A bike is not just a bike, especially for long rides.

A bike should be as comfortable as possible to avoid straining your body. Having the right size and style can help prevent heel pain. 

For instance, if it’s a road bike with a straight bar, ensure that you can comfortably straddle it while maintaining an inch between your body and the bar. 

Maintain a two-inch distance in the case of a mountain bike with an angle bar. If such features are not considered during purchase, you will strain your legs, feet, and back muscles, resulting in heel pain.

Related article – What Bike Size Should I Buy?

Use proper gear

Do you wear bike cleats? Cleats provide the rider with more stability and strength while riding. It is essential to ensure that they are compatible with the bike pedals.

If they are poorly positioned such that the foot sits far forward, you will end up straining your heels and Achilles tendons, resulting in plantar fasciitis. Similarly, when the back is too far, it will be challenging to propel the bike forwards properly.

Foot of a young man cycling

Employ proper riding techniques

Before starting your cycling journey, ensure that your body is adequately aligned. Employing such safety measures reduce the risk of back and foot injuries.

Are you a road cyclist? The best body posture is at 45 degrees, while the arms are bent at 90 degrees.

Pedal properly

While pedaling, ensure that your legs do not extend straight out. If they are more than 80 or 90 percent, especially during downward pedaling, consider lowering the bike seat. Otherwise, you will strain your feet, resulting in plantar fasciitis.

Related article – When Should I Replace My Bike Pedals?

Wear the proper footwear

Wearing high-quality and comfortable shoes can save you from the problem of developing plantar fasciitis.

Despite cycling being a low risk, it is essential to wear it correctly to avoid possible discomfort. Ensure that the shoes are not pinching your toes or are loose, allowing your heel to move around. Wearing uncomfortable footwear can result in exerting unnecessary pressure on your pedals.

Related article – Are Cycling Shoes Worth It?

Stretch before you cycle

Just like in any other sport, you should warm up and stretch properly before you head out. 

The aim is to warm up the body muscles and release residual pain. If you stretch beforehand, the chances of experiencing pain are reduced.

How Do You Treat Plantar Fasciitis?

Are you experiencing heel pain? If you are a sports person who enjoys cycling, it is essential to address the issue immediately. In most cases, heel pain is curable with conservative treatment.

First, before cycling, ensure you wear desirable footwear and have the appropriate cycling gear. Also, make sure the bike fit is right so that you can employ the proper pedaling technique. 

There are also huge benefits in warming up, cooling down, and stretching pre/post rides. Stretching relaxes muscles and ligaments, strengthening them to prevent future injuries.

Apart from exercise, you can ice the area to relieve pain and inflammation. Similarly, medications like anti-inflammatories and non-steroids like ibuprofen can be used for the same purpose. This can help provide relief for your feet.

If you are considering cycling as a strategy for releasing plantar fasciitis, then it’s a great idea. However, despite being a low-risk sport, it can cause more harm than good if poorly done. As such, it is essential to understand the best way to cycle and use proper cycling gear to heal heel pain.

Related article – Best Stretches For Cyclists To Help Recover Faster

Rolling out plantar fasciitis

Part time TCP contributor, full time cycling enthusiast! I am USAC qualified cycling coach - my forte and passion are working with new or inexperienced cyclists.

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