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Heel Pain and Obesity: The Chicken or the Egg?

A new survey has found that heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis, a problem affecting almost a third of people who are overweight, often limits exercise and therefore makes it difficult for people to lose weight. The survey of 381 adult Americans, conducted by Heeling Solutions LLC, ( found that 90% of people with heel pain who exercise at least 1 to 2 times per week report that heel pain limits their physical activity. The survey also found that 69% of people reporting heel pain were interested in losing weight, as compared to 58% of the general public.

Plantar fasciitis is the most common type of heel pain and is an example of a physical condition that can prevent or derail a weight loss program. It usually strikes people when they are increasing the amount of physical activity that they do. Be it a runner training for a marathon, a weekend warrior at a weekend tennis game, or an obese person starting to exercise. The change in the amount of stress put on the heel and foot can lead to plantar fasciitis. This can be especially devastating for overweight people who often develop plantar fasciitis as they begin to see progress in their attempt to lose weight.

"It strikes people of all ages and levels of physical activity," says David Nader, an exercise physiologist and advisor to Heeling Solutions, a company focused on helping patients and their doctors resolve heel pain through education and non-invasive techniques. Plantar fasciitis does not discriminate; even pro-athletes in excellent shape get it. For example Minnesota Vikings receiver Randy Moss, who missed last years Pro Bowl, because of plantar fasciitis, or the Pistons Rasheed Wallace, one of this years key players in the NBA finals, who battled plantar fasciitis since late in the 2004 season.

Though in most cases heel problems are not directly causing obesity, it is clear that resolving heel pain is important to staying healthy and losing weight for a large number of people.

"Some diseases like arthritis, tend to greatly reduce a person ability to exercise, and there is little that one can do about them, however, there are others like plantar fasciitis where that need not be the case," according to Dr. Jeffrey Peterson, physician with the Northern California Institute of Sports Medicine, "Most people can recover from plantar fasciitis using conservative means, which can really make a difference in helping people lose the weight."

Many people needlessly suffer from heel pain for years before they do anything about it. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, it is estimated that 2 million people seek treatment for plantar fasciitis every year in the United States, and it is believed that there are several million more who go untreated and suffer needlessly. In most cases the longer a person waits to seek treatment the longer it will take to get rid of it.

If your heel hurts and it is limiting your ability to exercise, its time to get diagnosed and get on the road to recovery.

Daniel Marein-Efron is a former plantar fasciitis sufferer and President of Heeling Solutions LLC . Mr. Marein-Efron has been involved with a variety of entrepreneurial businesses through his consulting company DMEX Consulting LLC.



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