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  • Writer's picturePaula Allia

Fitness Together – Plantar Fasciitis

TANAPAT LEK.JIW | shutterstock


The average person that lives till 80 has walked between 75,000-110,000 miles. The feet propel us through every step. Whether one has a low arch or high arch or a flexible or rigid foot, gait is part of everyday life, and the miles accumulate throughout life.

As one can imagine, the more use of the feet, the more chance of foot pain at some point. The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis (PF). Over two million people suffer from this problem each year.

Plantar fascia is a tough connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot from the medial side of the heel bone up to the toes. This fascia supports the arch and assists in the stability of the foot with weight transference with every step. This fascia is ligamentous in nature and its primary function is to provide support to the arch and bottom of the foot whether there is a high or low arch.

Inflammation and debilitation can occur if not taken care of properly. Overuse and lack of flexibility can cause dysfunction enough to limit normal gait and cause cessation of running and participating in activities.

There are risk factors for developing plantar fasciitis. These are:

  • Exercises that cause a lot of stress to the bottom of the feet

  • High arches or flat feet

  • Obesity

  • Occupations requiring climbing or prolonged standing

  • Lack of flexibility in the ankle, foot, or calf

  • Wearing sandals and not supporting the arch and heel properly

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis may include:

  • Pain around the heel

  • Pain upon getting out of bed in the morning and taking the first few steps

  • Pain when getting up out of a chair if sitting for a long period of time

  • Pain when stretching the foot pulling the toes up towards the head

The more inflammation, the more pain that one may experience. Treatment of this problem is very successful provided that the symptoms are not ignored when first recognizing them. The application of cold and using anti-inflammatories usually help to lessen the symptoms but the cause of why this developed must be dealt with and corrected if possible.

If pain is present in the morning with the first few minutes of walking you must recognize that the foot was probably under the covers and in a plantar flexed position (toe pointing away) all night. This position shortens the PF all night so that when you arise and need it to stretch while walking it creates sharp pain. Night splints are made to wear in bed so that the fascia is not overly shortened. This helps to maintain the foot in its normal position. In addition, if no splint is worn, loosening the sheets so that the foot is not so far flexed may also help.

Rolling an ice bottle under the foot may help to decrease inflammation if the pain is bad. The Graston technique can be used in physical therapy to help as well.

Once the pain is controlled, stretching the calf and great toe can be beneficial but do not overstretch, especially if the area is still symptomatic.

Take care of your feet. Wearing the right sneakers that support your arch and absorb shock is significant. Many people get orthotics to better support the arch, so the weight is transferred more properly from heel to toe. Keeping the calf and foot stretched and strengthening the muscles in the leg and foot can be extremely beneficial for your foot health so that participation in activities will not be interrupted.

Here’s to your health!


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