The first step is usually the hardest. Upon rising in the morning, sufferers of plantar fasciitis are greeted with a sharp pain in the foot, spreading forward from the arch to the toes. While roughly 60 per cent of athletic injuries are due to training errors, plantar fasciitis is the result of a combination of factors, including training injury as well as biomechanical deficiency, according to James Russel Ebbets, D.C. of the New York Chiropractic College. Specialised shoes can minimise the pain to the plantar fascia, or the tendon running from the heel to the balls of the foot, and even correct the problem.
Pain from a strained plantar fascia is usually localised near the point of attachment to the heel. While orthopaedists are reluctant to enumerate a specific cause for the injury, the "Medical Disability Advisor" states that "repetitive micro trauma may play a role."
Long strides in running place enormous stress on the heel, so athletic footwear companies like New Balance and Etonic feature shoe lines with specialised heel support and shock absorption to minimise impact injury. New Balance running shoes designed for plantar fasciitis sufferers come from the WR and MR lines. Etonic specialised running shoes are under the Trans Am DRX brand banner.
MBT stands for “Masai Barefoot Technology.” According to the MBT website, the company was born on the premise that instability was good for the feet and the body. The company discovered this by watching the Masai people navigate difficult terrain barefoot, and postulated that the smooth, hard surfaces of the modern world were partly to blame for everything from plantar fasciitis to lower back pain and poor posture.
The shoe design features sturdy arch support inside, mirrored by a convex sole outside that forces the wearer to roll forward in the step, using the balls of the feet for strength and support, rather than the heel. MBT is a brand name, but several copycats have turned up since the company’s 1996 beginning and modelled the technology into everything from dress shoes to sandals.
Orthotics, or specialised insoles, and shoes designed specifically for plantar fasciitis seek to change the way you walk by styling the shoes in such as way as to force new habits. New Balance and Etonic call this “motion control.” One of the primary components of motion control is the “rocker bottom” design pioneered by MBT. Etonic’s Minado line and New Balance’s MW and WW lines of walking shoes both feature motion control designs combined with added shock absorption at the heel, medial support along the inside of the arch and removable insoles that can be easily replaced with custom orthotics.