Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition that results from inflammation at the site where the plantar fascia, a long ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot just below the skin, attaches to the heel bone. The plantar fascia supports the arch of the foot when standing, walking, and engaging in any type of activity that involves putting pressure on the foot, such as running or jumping. In this article, we will discuss the causes, prevention, and treatment of plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis falls into a category of injuries referred to as overuse injuries. The risk of plantar fasciitis increases with physical activity, especially when the activity occurs suddenly. The risk also greatly increases when there’s movement over hard and uneven terrain. A number of factors can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis, including physical activity, improper footwear, excess body weight, overpronation, abnormal foot structure, and hard surfaces.
Athletic activities that exert force and pressure on the foot can lead to plantar fasciitis. The condition is most commonly associated with high-impact sports that involve running and jumping. Wearing the wrong type of shoe during physical activity can contribute to plantar fasciitis. Improper shoes lack good arch support and cushioning, leaving the feet vulnerable and unprotected against forceful impact. When someone is carrying too much weight, the feet are forced to absorb additional shock, which can play a role in the development of plantar fasciitis.
When the natural movement of pronation is exaggerated during walking and running, the plantar fascia can become overstretched, possibly leading to pain and inflammation. Arches that are high or flat can alter body alignment, potentially putting additional stress on the plantar fascia. Standing, walking, or running on hard surfaces can increase the risk of plantar fasciitis.
There are a number of ways to prevent pain from plantar fasciitis. Limit the number of days and the amount of time you spend participating in high-impact activities to avoid excess stress on the feet. Take breaks in between high-impact workouts by incorporating days of rest into your routine or choosing a low-impact activity in between days of high-impact activity. Avoid walking barefoot on hard surfaces. Wear shoes with good arch support and cushioning, and choose shoes specifically designed for your intended activity. Consider wearing a night splint in order to prevent pain when standing first thing in the morning. Night splints keep the foot slightly flexed while gently stretching the plantar fascia. Before working out, consider taping your foot in order to limit the stretching and movement that can lead to plantar fasciitis pain. Be sure to use rigid athletic tape that offers a little bit of stretch. Use orthotics or inserts in your shoes for added support and shock absorption.
There are a number of ways to relieve plantar fasciitis pain. Doctors usually recommend conservative at-home remedies as a first step in reducing pain. These include rest, ice, over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, and stretching exercises.
You may need to give your foot a chance to heal by avoiding high-impact exercise for a period of time. Consider low-impact athletic activities such as swimming and cycling until your pain resolves. Cold therapy can help ease the inflammation that causes pain. You can apply ice to the bottom of the foot three or four times a day for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Cover your foot with a sock or thin layer of fabric when icing to protect the skin. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen can help relieve both pain.
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