When it comes to foot pain, one term rules them all: Plantar Fasciitis. Nearly everyone has heard of it, many have experienced, most fear the idea of getting it someday, but few know what it actually is or what causes it. And what complicates the matter is that not all heel pain is plantar fasciitis.
Wait, what is Plantar Fascia?
The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue that spans the bottom of the foot, from the heel toward the big toe. Its whole purpose is to create stability for the bottom of the foot during weight-bearing activities. It doesn’t contract itself, like a muscle, but does get pulled on a bit every time you put weight on your foot.
Then what is Plantar Fasciitis?
The term “Plantar Fasciitis” is certainly a misnomer as most current research rejects the belief that it actually gets inflamed. Instead, after repetitive pulling, the plantar fascia starts to tear at a micro level. The more internal damage to the tissue, the greater the pain.
Once you have plantar fasciitis, the pain can easily become unbearable and dramatically limit your activity. From first-step pain in the morning to the sharp pain and ache at the end of the day, it can become a real bear to deal with.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
The primary cause of plantar fasciitis is over-pronation during gait. This causes a hyper-stretch of the tissue in every step. While people with high arches aren’t totally safe, they are generally at less risk. Calf tightness can also be a prime culprit. First thing in the morning, you often move from pointed-toe to stretch, causing a lot of pain from the sudden change.
How can I prevent this from happening to me?
To begin to curb symptoms, try the following tricks:
Stretch your calf often. Keep the big toe up, weight on the outside part of your foot, and your toes straight forward. Don’t stretch off the edge of step because they almost always cause increased pronation.
Walk holding your big toe up for your first 10 minutes in the morning. If you sit all day at work, keep your foot back so that your ankle is bent more often. Work on balance, without letting your footfall flat.
If symptoms don’t resolve after a few weeks, get some help. There are a number of other treatments that can help, from massage to orthotics.
And don’t worry, nobody deals with plantar fasciitis forever.