What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is quite common and affects 1:10 people. It is a painful condition in the foot often caused by repetitive strain to the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous connective tissue which runs from under the foot from heel to toes. It functions as a type of shock absorber to the foot when moving, walking, or running. However, it’s quite rigid. If too much traction is put on the plantar fascia, “trauma” such as an accident or “over-doing it” may result in micro-tears of the fascia. These micro-tears result in inflammation and pain. Plantar Fasciitis however can result in pain throughout the whole body not just the foot.
What causes Plantar Fasciitis?
- Plantar fasciitis is most seen in people with poor foot biomechanics that put stress on the plantar fascia. Flat feet, weak foot arches and over-pronation are common causes due to over-stretching of the plantar fascia.
- Common risk factors include:
- Sports such as running, walking or dance that place stress on the heel bone and attached tissue increase the risk of plantar fasciitis, especially if the intensity of exercise is increased.
- Extended standing or on-feet
- Activities or jobs that require a lot of walking or standing on hard surfaces can lead to stress and fatigue of foot muscles.
- Weight and pregnancy
- Additional weight, even through latter stages of pregnancy, increases strain and stress on plantar fascia.
- Flat feet, over-pronation
- Arches are the foot’s shock absorber. With lack of arch, or arches that are weak and/or over-pronate, additional strain is placed on the plantar fascia, which absorbs the force.
- Shoes with poor support
- Shoes that provide no support put strain on the plantar fascia. Ballet flats, converse sneakers and flip-flops are not good for feet. All these shoes are thin-soles and provide no arch support. High heels can also encourage the achilles tendon to shorten, adding additional strain on heel tissue.
What are the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis usually causes pain in the heel of the foot. For some, it may be felt in the arch area or other parts of the sole of the foot, although heel pain is the most common location. The heel may also have mild swelling.
The pain tends to be worse in the mornings or after resting. The first few steps out of bed can feel intense, like a knife sticking into the bottom of the foot but improves with activity as feet warm up. For many, pain may also be felt after long periods of standing or starting to move after being seated for a time.
For those doing sport, the heel pain usually makes itself known after exercise, but not normally during.