What are the plantar fascia?
The plantar fascia consists of dense bands of tissue deep below the skin that extend out in a fan like fashion from the heel bone to the toes. If you pull your toes and foot up towards your head, you will feel this tissue tighten.
Who is at risk for getting plantar fasciitis?
- People who are overweight or experience sudden weight gain
- Pregnant women
- People who wear shoes that don't provide adequate support
- People with flat feet
- People with high arches
- Women are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis than men
What causes plantar fasciitis?
The cause of plantar fasciitis remains unclear. However, there are several factors that can increase risk for plantar fasciitis.
- Repetitive activities, such as prolonged standing or walking on hard or irregular surfaces
- Weight gain
- An injury, though this is rarely a cause
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
- A sharp pain in the heel
- Pain upon first stepping out of bed, which usually subsides but may return later
- Pain that gets worse when climbing stairs
- Pain that gets worse when standing for long periods of time
- Pulling of the tight plantar fascia on the heel bone during activity can result in the formation of a bone spur off the tip of the heel bone at the origin of the plantar fascia tissue. This bone spur itself is not the cause of pain, but rather the result of chronic irritation to the bone caused by the stretching of the tight tissue.
Preventing plantar fasciitis
- Don't try running to lose weight after a rapid weight gain. Walk first, and stretch the muscles of the foot and calf to help condition your body before running.
- Wear good, supportive shoes for your athletic activities.
- Always warm up well and stretch before participating in sports.
- Keep the muscles of your feet and ankles strong to support your arch.
- Rest from activities that cause pain to the heel, ice and support the heel. Begin the appropriate exercises as soon as possible.
- See your physician if pain persists despite these measures.