Dr pickleball
By: CJ Johnson | December 8, 2018 |

Pickleball Foot Pain-Plantar Fasciitis and Achilles Tendinitis

Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Foot pain can keep you off the pickleball courts for a long time.  “Dr. Pickleball,” Allan Rosenthal, DPM, FACFAS is back to talk about two fairly common ailments, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles Tendinitis. What they are and what you can do to prevent them?

If you missed the first part of our discussion, Dr. Pickleball gave us some great preventative suggestions, so we don’t have problems and have to see the foot doctor in the first place. Click this link.

For the second part of our discussion, we asked the better pickleball community, what foot care items were of interest to you. Without a doubt, it was plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon issues. Here is our conversation.

CJ: Allan, two of the biggest questions that we received were plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon issues. So let’s start with the plantar fasciitis. What is it?

Allan: On the bottom of the foot is a ligament-like band that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot. Some of the attachments run into the back of the leg and into the Achilles. With plantar fasciitis, the way I try and explain it to patients is it’s like a string on a bow. When you take that first step in the morning, it pulls, it stretches out when you sit down and get up again, and it stretches out.  A lot of patients complain, of first thing in the morning pain, and then they sit down and relax after their pickleball, they get up again. Oy vey

CJ: It is very painful. I suffered from plantar fasciitis for a long time. What are some of the things that the readers can do to avoid plantar fasciitis in the first place?

Allan: What I tell some patients is, first of all,  if they get this morning pain, they can take any anti-inflammatory before they go to sleep, but I would have something in their stomach. Aleve, Naprosyn,  over the counter works for a longer period of time then something like Advil.

When you get up in the morning, I would have him just bring their toes up to their face. Don’t jump out of bed.

When they’re walking around barefoot in the house, don’t walk barefoot, don’t wear flip-flops. Wear some kind of a slipper, shoe gear.

In the summer, don’t wear flip-flops wear something like Vionics that have some kind of support.

If they get the pain after playing pickleball, they can ice it. What I usually tell patients is take a Dixie Cup, put it in your freezer, make like an ice cream cone. Rub the area after you play five, six minutes, whatever it takes. Or take a bag of vegetables like peas and carrots and put it on the area. And this could be for both Plantar Fasciitis plaintiff or Achilles tendinitis.

CJ: The second question after plantar fasciitis was regarding Achilles tendinitis. Allan that you told me you’re seeing a lot of Achilles tendon issues from pickleball, so why don’t you tell us what it is and how it’s different from plantar fasciitis.

Allan: The basics differences are the Achilles attaches in the back of the heel, and the plantar fascia attaches on the bottom, so you’re getting pain in the back of your heel. You may see some swelling in the Achilles tendon actually if you see swelling, then you should definitely see a physician, but you will feel the pain in the back. That’s the major difference.

CJ: If it’s just minor pain and I’m not yet ready to see the doctor, how do I treat the Achilles tendinitis the same way as the plantar fasciitis? Or do I need to be a little different?

Allan: A little different. First of all, you do some of the same things: the ice that we talked about, and mild stretching. You could put a heel lift in your shoe.

When you wake up first thing in the morning, I would do the same thing because that’s what you’re stretching, the fascia. Some of the fibers run from the Achilles down into the Plantar Fascia. So that’s how the related.

CJ: When is it time to see the doctor and get beyond the ice and the home treatments? What are some of the signs?

Allan: When you see swelling, obviously if it’s black and blue, I’ve seen stress fractures in the heel that we thought was plantar fasciitis. Stress fractures are just a tiny little crack in the bone, which I can’t see on an x-ray until it’s four weeks down the road. I have to order an MRI and see it. It’s the same thing with the Achilles. The Achilles can swell up. There could be a bulge in it. That’s when I would definitely see a physician, but you don’t want to get to that point.

CJ: If I understand you, when it goes from being a little uncomfortable to this is impacting me, that’s time to go and see somebody with your expertise.

Allan: You can’t get those home remedies to work. That’s when you need to see a physician.

CJ: Allan, on behalf of the Better Pickleball Community, thank you so much for giving us some professional guidance because I know that in our communities the message gets a little convoluted, so we appreciate you sharing your knowledge about plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. Now, for those of you who want to get in touch with Allan, if you’re in his area, and what city is it that you’re in again, and Allan, tell us the name of your, of your clinic.

Allan: It’s the Advanced Foot Care Center in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

CJ: I am going to put a link to Allan’s website. If you are interested, you can get in touch with Allan via his website and Allan; I am sure that the Better Pickleball community is going to have some additional questions for you. Would you be willing to come back, let’s say maybe sometime in January or early February based on our schedules?

Allan: Love it. I really do.

CJ: If you have some questions, you can email me cj@betterpickleball.com I’ll compile them, and we will see Allan sometime in January.

What are your questions for Dr. Pickleball? Put them in the comments below, and they may be part of our next discussion.


CJ Johnson

Hey there — I’m a professional three-sport athlete and coach who has spent my entire adult life earning a living from playing and coaching sports. Since I started coaching more than three decades ago, one thing has remained the same: My commitment to see students not as they are but as what they can become and to move heaven and earth to help them realize their untapped potential. You should know that when it comes to helping pickleball players over 50 live their best lives on and off the courts, I'm an expert. Good pickleball is not just technique; it's the mind and body working holistically. That's why I'm also a personal trainer and weight management specialist. When I’m chillin', you'll find me watching Star Trek with my husband John and our two fur babies, Shirley and Ralph. (Yes, Happy Days)