What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition usually apparent on the inside and under the heel and often at its worst first thing in the morning.
It is often caused by overuse of the long arch structures of the foot. This overuse can result in heel spur development or degeneration of fibres close to the attachments to the heel.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis or heel spurs are common in sports which involve running, dancing or jumping. Runners who overpronate (feet rolling in or flattening) are particularly at risk as the additional stretching of the plantar fascia causes inflammation at it’s origin.
The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is very tight calf muscles which leads to prolonged and / or high velocity pronation of the foot. This in turn produces repetitive over-stretching of the plantar fascia leading to possible inflammation and thickening of the tendon. As the fascia thickens it looses flexibility and strength.
Other causes include low arch or high arched feet (pes planus / cavus) and other biomechanical abnormalities including over-supination.
Excessive walking in footwear which does not provide adequate arch support has been attributed to plantar fasciitis. Footwear for plantar fasciitis – both prevention and treatment – should be flat, lace-up and with good arch support and cushioning.
Obesity can increase the likelihood of developing this condition.
Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms?
Symptoms include heel pain, under the heel and usually on the inside, at the origin of the attachment of the fascia.
Pain when pressing on the inside of the heel and sometimes along the arch.
Pain is usually worse first thing in the morning as the fascia tightens up overnight.After a few minutes it eases as the foot gets warmed up.
As the condition becomes more severe the pain can get worse throughout the day if activity continues.
Stretching the plantar fascia may be painful.Sometimes there may also be pain along the outside border of the heel. This may occur due to the offloading the painful side of the heel by walking on the outside border of the foot. It may also be associated with the high impact of landing on the outside of the heel if you have high arched feet.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment
Rest is very important as it is often one’s style of walking which has caused the problem.
Podiatrists can use taping techniques help your foot get the rest it needs by supporting the plantar fascia and reducing stress during movement.
Ice and cold therapy can help reduce pain and inflammation.
Stretches of your plantar fascia and calf muscles can reduce the stress on attachments. The wearing of a night splint can further increase the length of soft tissue. Orthotics can be fitted to correct your gait, tackling the initial cause of the condition.
Strengthening the muscles within the foot that support the arch has been proven to be beneficial.