The Facts On Plantar Fasciitis:

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Image of internal foot showing pain from plantar fasciitis in the heel. 

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain, and it can be a very painful condition. It is caused by inflammation in the tissue that connects the base of your toes to your heel bone, called the plantar fascia ligament. This tissue helps support the bones of your arch and absorbs some of the strain you put on your feet, whether from running or other kinds of vigorous exercise.

Typically, the main plantar fasciitis symptom is a stabbing pain around the heel of your foot, where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone. The pain can be intense after long periods of inactivity, such as when getting out of bed in the morning or getting up from a stationary position. The pain often lessens when walking, but may be persistent.

If you think you might have plantar fasciitis, you should contact your doctor. The sooner a doctor diagnoses and treats your problem, the earlier you will have pain relief.

WHAT CAUSES PLANTAR FASCIITIS?

The plantar fascia of your foot typically works to absorb shock and support your foot arch. However, repetitive stress and tension in this tissue can cause stretching and tearing, which can lead to pain. For runners, a sudden or drastic increase in mileage, along with the lack of proper arch support or the use of worn out shoes may be to blame. But according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, plantar fasciitis usually doesn’t have one definitive cause. They note, however, some things that can make you more apt to experience it:

  • Tight calf muscles, which can make it hard for you to flex your foot
  • Being overweight, which can amplify the everyday shocks of moving
  • Very high arches because the fascia are already under extra tension
  • Repetitive impact activity like running, hiking or other sports

 

Those within the 40-60 year age range are most likely to develop plantar fasciitis. Dancers, runners, and other individuals that partake in sports that place extra stress on this part of the foot are also prone to developing this condition. This also goes for those who spend long periods of time on their feet throughout the day. Occupations that require you to stand for most of the day can put you more at risk for developing plantar fasciitis. The distribution of your weight on your foot also impacts how much stress is placed on your plantar fascia. Those with flat feet, high arches, or abnormal walking patterns can be at risk for developing this condition.

image of woman doing a yoga toe hold stretch

HOW TO HELP PREVENT PAIN FROM PLANTAR FASCIITIS?

  • Wearing supportive shoes: Choose shoes that absorb shock, with good arch support and low heel. Worn-out athletic shoes will no longer provide the cushioning and support you need, so make sure to get new shoes as needed.
  • Avoiding going barefoot: This can put additional stress on your plantar fascia.
  • Reducing the impact on your feet: By maintaining a healthy weight and practicing low-impact sports (such as swimming or bicycling), you can limit the stress on your plantar fascia. Heel pads in shoes can also help to lessen the impact and absorb shock.
  • Doing arch stretches:
    • Calf stretches and stretches using a towel: Place the towel under the ball of your feet, and pull gently the towel toward you, and hold a few seconds. Do this several times a day, especially when first getting up in the morning. Stretching the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel is especially important before sports, but it is helpful for non-athletes as well.
    • Wall lunges: First step into a lunge stance, with one leg bent, toes facing forward and the other leg extended straight behind, with foot planted firmly on ground. Feet should be hip-distance apart. Place your hands on the wall in front of you, leaning into the stretch. The arch of your foot and your heel cord should stretch as you lean. Hold for 10 seconds and then relax and release out of the stretch. Repeat 20 times for each sore heel.

 

HOW TO RELIEVE PLANTAR FASCIITIS PAIN?

Having plantar fasciitis is a painful experience that may even require surgery, so it’s important to talk with your doctor about your symptoms. He or she can help make sure you don’t have another condition and help you learn how to get the plantar fasciitis pain management plan you need.

Treatments to manage plantar fasciitis pain can include:

  • Taking a break from activities that cause the pain
  • Using ice: Icing your heels for 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times a day, or after activity. This can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Using over-the-counter pain relievers as needed.
  • Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy, padding, taping and strapping, using plantar fasciitis night splints or wearing a removable walking cast or boot, depending on your case.
  • In addition, you may want to talk to your doctor about using Dr. Scholl’s Pain Relief Orthotics for Plantar Fasciitis, designed for added arch support and all-day relief of plantar fasciitis pain.

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