If you suffer from sharp, throbbing or arching heel pain with your first few steps in the morning, or while walking during the day, you may have a condition called plantar fasciitis. Literally translated as “foot inflammation,” this condition involves the swelling of the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes known as the plantar fascia. While more common in runners, plantar fasciitis also affects those who are overweight and those who wear shoes with inadequate and/or improper support.
The plantar fascia that runs along the bottom of your foot typically acts like a shock-absorbing bowstring, supporting your foot’s arch. If tension and stress on that bowstring gets to be too much, small tears can arise in the fascia. Repetitive stretching and tearing can cause the fascia to become irritated or inflamed, resulting in pain and discomfort. While a direct cause isn’t cited, some factors include:
- Pronation or irregular gait
- Weak or tight surrounding tissue
- Obesity or rapid weight gain
- Ill-fitting or old footwear
- Injury or trauma
Pain from plantar fasciitis can limit your ability to enjoy life, to work and even exercise. For some, symptoms last 6-10 months, while others may experience more long-term effects. But there are things you can do to decrease your symptoms and get back to high-stepping through life:
- Stretching: simple stretches performed once or twice a day for 10-15 minutes can break up adhesions on the arch, improve circulation, strengthen muscles, and improve flexibility
- Massaging: massaging the arches and bottoms of the foot can decrease tension in the tissue and increase blood flow which can also decrease discomfort and pain
- Resting: rest is key to any injury, sit or lie down several times throughout the day to take pressure off of your foot
- Supporting: orthotic inserts designed for the condition can add cushion and support for your arches and reduce discomfort
If you pain increases or continues, consulting with your doctor or physical therapist can be a good way to develop a plan for treatment. A physical therapist at Woman’s Center for Wellness can help you assess your range of motion and strength as well as the tension in the plantar fascia to develop an exercise routine to help relieve symptoms. With some small modifications to activities and added stretches, you can get significant relief from plantar fasciitis pain.
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