Proper form and footwear help keep foot injury at bay.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of your foot that connects your heel to your toes, also known as the plantar fascia. It has many causes, including overuse from running, improper footwear or being overweight. Having either flat fleet or very high arches are both causes, as well. High impact workouts where your foot bears the brunt of your weight are the biggest culprits. However, if incorrect form is used on an elliptical trainer, even though it's considered low-impact, it can indeed cause and/or exacerbate plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis often occurs from excess pressure on the structures in the bottom of your feet. This condition could be caused by elliptical workouts.
Use Proper Form
It's important to use proper form while working out on an elliptical trainer not only so that you don't develop plantar fasciitis, but if you already suffer from it, to not make it worse. Don't lift your foot off the pedal with each motion, rather keep it flush against the pedal and use a smooth rolling movement either backward or forward, according to the American Council on Exercise. Avoid pushing off too hard with your toes and the ball of your foot or putting repeated pressure on the ball of your foot, as this is what often triggers plantar fasciitis.
Choose Low-Impact Workouts
Doctors usually recommend a more stationary workout to get your cardio in while not exacerbating a plantar fasciitis injury, according to Podiatry Today. Stationary workouts - such as on an elliptical machine or recumbent bike - are considered best as they are lower impact and they allow for less pressure on your feet. The machine bears some of the weight for you.
Avoid Plantar Fasciitis
Even if you've chosen a low-impact workout such as the elliptical trainer and your form is spot-on, there are other important ways to avoid plantar fasciitis. The first is proper footwear. You should choose athletic shoes that support your arches and offer effective shock absorption, per Wake Med Health. In addition, do a slow warm-up and stretch sequence before hopping on the elliptical. Muscles, tissue and joints that aren't warmed up are more prone to injury.
Treat Plantar Fasciitis
If you have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, it's important to treat it promptly. According to the Mayo Clinic, treatments come in three phases. The first, less invasive treatments include acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and pain, wearing arch-supportive shoes at all times, rest, stretching your foot, and wearing a foot brace at night. Second steps may include steroid injections, ultrasound therapy and boot casts. Surgery is usually a last resort for chronic cases.