The plantar fascia (i.e. flat band of ligaments connecting the heel bone to the toes) supports the arch of the foot. When the plantar fascia is consistently strained, it can become swollen, inflamed or weakened. This can cause pain in bottom of the foot or heel to hurt as you walk or stand in one spot.
Plantar fasciitis is very prevalent in middle aged individuals. However, it frequently occurs in younger people who spend prolonged periods of time on their feet.
Plantar Fasciitis Causes:
Repeated straining of the supporting ligaments of the foot arch can ultimately result in tiny tears. Plantar fasciitis often develops with:
- Excessive pronation.
- Flat feet or high arches.
- Prolonged periods of standing, walking and/or running, particularly on hard surfaces.
- Being overweight or obese.
- Ill-fitting or worn out shoes.
- Tight calf muscles or Achilles tendons.
Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms:
The most typical symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain occurring when you take your first steps in the morning, or you have been sitting for a long time. This pain can come and go over the course of the day. The most pain may occur when you climb stairs or if you stand for a long period of time.
Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosis:
A Podiatrist generally examines a patient's feet, watches the manner in which they walk/stand and asks questions related to:
- Previous health history.
- Current symptoms.
- Intensity and types of physical activities in which you participate.
Additionally, the foot care specialist may order an X-ray of the feet to check for any other types of associated injuries.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment Options:
- Rest: Reduce activities that cause any heel pain. Avoid walking or running on hard surfaces.
- Ice Packs: Apply ice packs to the affected areas to help decrease pain, swelling and/or inflammation.
- Pain Relievers and Anti-Inflammatories: Take pain relievers/anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin.
- Stretching Exercises: Perform stretching exercises for the toes and calf muscles several times during the course of the day.
- New Shoes and/or Orthotics: Choose appropriate footwear that has cushioned soles and good arch supports. Orthotics may also be helpful. Dansko and Vionic offer plenty of shoes designed specifically to accommodate the aches of pains, so browse our selection of plantar fasciitis products today.
If none of the above treatments alleviate plantar fasciitis, the foot specialist may provide the patient with nighttime splints as well as administer cortisone injections into the heel to reduce inflammation.
Within a few weeks of treatment, heel pain should begin to subside. However, since plantar fasciitis develops over time, it can take a few months to a year for the pain to disappear completely. Be patient and persistent with any prescribed treatments.
What is appropriate footwear for a sufferer of plantar fasciitis? Basically, it must satisfy two requirements: Footwear must provide support to both your heel and arch to order to relieve pain, and also to allow the affected foot to heal.
Features to look for in shoes when you suffer from plantar fasciitis include:
- Firm heel counters. The heel counter is a small, plastic insert that reinforces the heel cup of a shoe. A heel counter that is thick and firm cradles the arch and heel, which helps decrease overpronation.
- Minimal midsole torquing. The shoe should be sufficiently rigid to not bend and/or twist in its midsole section.
- Strong arch support.
- A slightly elevated heel.
- A removable foot bed. A removable footbed can be very helpful if you need to use custom orthotics or insoles. You can also try to remove the original insole and substitute an insole such as one by Superfeet.
Participants in high-impact sports should be sure to look the following essential features in footwear:
- Correct arch support.
- Adequate flexibility.
- Sufficient shock absorption.
The type of arch support you require in your athletic shoes will depend on two related factors:
- What type of foot arch you have (i.e. flat, normal or high).
- Whether you are an "overpronator" or an "underpronator" (i.e. supinator). If you "overpronate," your foot turns inward when you walk. You likely have low arches and therefore your arch collapses as you walk. This situation increases your risk for injuries. By comparison, if your feet "supinate" when you walk, your foot turns outward. Typically, those who have high arches "underpronate" and excessive shock travels up your legs. Your arches do not collapse enough in order to absorb this shock. This is the least common type of arch.
A foot specialist and/or podiatrist can determine what kind of arch you have, whether you overpronate or supinate and/or if you have an irregular stride.
The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue running lengthwise along the bottom of the foot connecting the heel to the toes. It normally functions as a sort of shock-absorbing bowstring that supports the arch of the foot. If tension on this string becomes excessive, it can cause small tears within the fascia. Repeated stretching and/or tearing can result in the fascia becoming irritated and/or inflamed, a condition referred to as plantar fasciitis. This is one of the most prevalent foot conditions that results in heel pain.
The pain associated with it is typically described as "stabbing." It usually starts when a sufferer initially puts his/her feet on the floor when getting up in the morning. After the foot limbers up, the pain often decreases. However, it can come back after prolonged periods of standing and/or walking again after sitting down for awhile.
There are a number of factors that can increase the likelihood of developing plantar fasciitis that include:
- Age: Plantar fasciitis is more prevalent in individuals who are between the ages of 40 to 60 years.
- Sex: Females tend to develop plantar fasciitis more frequently than males do.
- Certain Sports, Exercise and/or Leisure Activities: Activities that put undue amounts of stress on the heels and attached connective tissues (e.g. long distance running/walking, ballet, dance aerobics, etc.) can lead to the onset of plantar fasciitis.
- Improper Training: Walking or running for prolonged distances without being properly conditioned or trained.
- Certain Surfaces: Athletes who suddenly change their running and/or walking surfaces (e.g. go from softer grass to hard surfaces) can irritate/inflame the plantar fascia.
- Abnormal Foot Mechanics: Possessing flat feet or high arches can negatively affect a person's weight distribution when standing, putting additional stress and strain on the plantar fascia. Pronation, a faulty walking pattern where the foot twists or rolls inward, can also contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis.
- Obesity: Individuals who are overweight are susceptible to this foot condition. Extra pounds put added stress on the plantar fascia.
- Pregnancy: Additional weight, gained during pregnancy, can put strain on the feet.
- Certain Occupations: There are a number of jobs that predispose individuals to plantar fasciitis. This includes any occupation in which a person spends the majority of his/her working hours standing and or walking on hard surfaces. Factory workers, cashiers, restaurant workers, medical personnel, teachers, members of the military, etc. fall into this category.
- Improper Shoes: People who routinely wear loose, thin-soled shoes, shoes with insufficient arch support and insufficient padding to absorb shock can easily develop irritated/inflamed plantar fascia. Women who wear high-heeled shoes on a regular basis can shorten their Achilles tendons, causing unnecessary strain on heel tissues. To help make shoes more supportive, insoles from manufacturers like Lynco and Superfeet can aid in providing your feet with the arch support you need.
- Tight Achilles Tendons: Individuals with tight Achilles tendons and/or tight calf muscles can be susceptible to plantar fasciitis. These tendons attach the calf muscles to the heel bones.
Talk to your doctor or podiatrist if you are experiencing any of the symptoms, and check out our Plantar Fasciitis products today.