Get Rid of Plantar Fasciitis Pain for Good
Do your first steps out of bed feeling like you jammed your heel on a sharp lego? If you’re a parent to small children, you might want to check that is not actually that case. If your floor is lego-free, however, you might be dealing with a common foot ailment called plantar fasciitis. A musculoskeletal condition which most often results from overuse, plantar fasciitis can range from annoying discomfort to debilitating heel pain. Don’t miss this quick guide to understanding plantar fasciitis and finding easy ways to treat it (for good!):
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Among the hundreds of bones, tendons, muscles, and ligaments in your foot, one of the longest is the plantar fascia – a band of tough tissue that extends along the bottom of your foot connecting the heel and toes. The middle part of your foot where your plantar fascia ligament stretches is responsible for maintaining the integrity of your foot arch as well as for helping absorb the shock of your foot impacting the ground when walking or running.
When the plantar fascia is overused it becomes irritated and inflamed, can incur microscopic tears, and even start to separate from the heel bone itself – this condition is what is known as plantar fasciitis. An estimated 1 in 10 people will develop plantar fasciitis at some point in their adult lives, making it the most common cause of heel pain.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
If you think about the plantar fascia ligament as a bowstring, like you might find on an archery bow, it is tight yet flexible to support the arch in your foot and serve as a shock absorber. When the stress and tension become too much for the plantar fascia, it becomes injured and can tear. Some physical activities contribute to overuse including long-distance running, ballet or similar aerobic dancing, and jump-focused sports like volleyball and basketball.
Additional risk factors for developing plantar fasciitis include:
- Weight – obese and overweight people are more likely to develop heel pain from added weight and stress placed on the feet as well as higher rates of inactivity
- Age – researchers have found that people between the ages of 40 and 60 most often develop this painful foot condition
- Weight-bearing occupations – if your job has you standing on a hard surface for most of the day (like is common with nurses, teachers, and factory workers), that can contribute to overuse of the plantar fascia
- Foot structure – if your body mechanics are altered due to structural abnormalities like flat or high arches, you may pronate in a way that over-stretches the plantar fascia
- Ill-fitting footwear – any footwear that is too snug, too loose, worn out, or simply doesn’t support good foot mechanics can lead to overuse injuries like plantar fasciitis
In addition to searing heel pain, most often in the morning after just waking, plantar fasciitis may present as swelling or tenderness in the bottom of the foot, so bad to even cause you to limp. Typically the pain subsides after you have walked around a bit, however, it may flare up again if you sit or stand for long periods of time. Surprisingly, plantar fasciitis pain is worse following a workout and not during.
How Can You Treat Plantar Fasciitis Pain?
If you’re weary of seeing a doctor right away for your mild plantar fasciitis pain, you can try resting the affected foot and be massaging and stretching it to work out the initial irritation. If pain persists or worsens, however, get a comprehensive evaluation from your physician or podiatrist.
Typically a doctor will conduct a physical examination and review your medical history and the types of physical activity you perform. They may also conduct imaging tests to rule out other potential causes for your heel pain like bone spurs.
Invasive procedures like steroid injections or surgery are the last resort for this type of injury; more conservative measures typically do the trick to relieve pain and prevent future injury. These include:
Orthotic aids – A plantar fasciitis brace gently stretches feet to relieve user’s pain and provides cushioning and support to an irritated plantar fascia. Some splints or braces are worn only at night while you sleep, while others (including arch supports) are for daytime use and fit in your shoe.
Ice therapy – if the injury has led to moderate to severe swelling and tenderness, applying an ice pack or rolling your foot over a frozen water bottle can help combat inflammation and numb painful nerve endings.
Massage/exercise – massaging the injured area of your foot from the heel to the forefoot can help break up scar tissue and boost blood flow to aid tissue repair. Stretching and strengthening exercises additionally help reinforce the plantar fascia and lower leg and ankle muscles to prevent further injury.
Pain medicine – pain medicine may not even be necessary, but to combat searing or radiating heel pain, over-the-counter options like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium may help.
About The Author:
Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle, he enjoys sharing and expressing his passion through writing. Working to motivate others and defeat aging stereotypes, Joe uses his writing to help all people overcome the obstacles of life. Covering topics that range from physical health, wellness, and aging all the way to social, news, and inspirational pieces…the goal is to help others “rebel against age”.