When a Pick-Up Game of Basketball Leads to Foot Pain – Plantar Fasciitis in Basketball

For many Weekend Warriors, the tip off of March Madness leads to more than a few pick-up games of basketball. To avoid landing on the disabled list while reliving your glory days and trying to prove that you’ve still got a great jump shot, Cody Olson, DO, an orthopedic surgeon with Banner Medical Group, recommends taking a few precautions.

A common ailment faced by basketball players, which can take you out of the game and possibly sideline you from more than just basketball, is pain on the bottom of the heel. Olson says plantar fasciitis is usually the culprit.

He describes the condition as inflammation of a big band of tissue – specifically a ligament known as the plantar fascia – that is found on the bottom of the foot, extending from the heel bone to the toes.

“The quick movements and frequent jumping that come with basketball make heel pain a fairly common problem for competitive athletes and weekend warriors alike.”

Olson describes the pain of plantar fasciitis as a stabbing sensation in the bottom of the foot at or near the heel. He says it is usually most painful during those first few steps in the morning or when getting up after sitting for a long period of time.

“As you move around, the pain tends to subside,” he said. “However, that doesn’t mean the problem magically disappears.”

Olson offers these tips to minimize your risk of developing plantar fasciitis or another condition when shooting hoops:

  • Lace up the proper footwear with adequate arch support
  • Warm up and stretch prior to playing
  • Stay hydrated, both during and after the game
  • Follow up each game with stretching

“A good rule of thumb is to replace your basketball shoes about every six months. You can also increase the arch support of your shoes with over-the-counter inserts to help reduce stress to your plantar fascia.”

If you experience pain in your heel, Olson recommends slowing down and giving your body – and heels – time to heal.

If the pain lasts more than a few weeks, he suggests consulting a physician to determine if it’s something more serious.

Beyond surgery, treatment options for plantar fasciitis can include rest, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications or injections.