Have a pain on the bottom of your foot? At some point, in your life, you will most likely suffer from Plantar Fasciitis. The plantar fascia is the connective tissue that runs from your heel bone to your toes. It acts as part of your foot’s shock absorption system and provides support for your arch. This tight band flexes and contracts as you walk. Too much tension and the band can tear. Continual use of the foot with these tears can lead to plantar fasciitis, an often painful and debilitating condition.

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation or micro-tears in the tissue. This injury can be very painful, at worst, or very annoying at least. It is generally felt in the morning when you first put weight on your foot, at the beginning and end of exercise, and standing after a period of sitting. You many feel pain in your heel or more towards your arch. It often times feels like a bruise, or rock in your shoe.

Causes:

  • Insufficient warm-up before exercise or exertion
  • Sudden or excessive increases in walking or running
  • Tight calves, achilles, and/or foot muscles (it is all connected)
  • Improper shoes for your foot biomechanics
  • Wearing shoes with no support i.e. high heels, or flat shoes
  • Standing for long periods of time
  • Excess body weight

Treatment:

  • Gently stretch and warm your foot before you get out of bed in the morning, try using a heating pad to warm the foot and calf
  • Cut back your walking or running
  • Slip your feet into supportive shoes for walking around the house
  • Don’t walk barefoot until your plantar fasciitis abates
  • Gently massage the tissue on a golf ball or foot roller
  • Ice the area after massage and exercise
  • Stretch your calves, achilles, and feet during the day
  • Purchase a night splint which keeps your foot in dorsal flexion (these are widely available at stores)
  • Exercise the tissue by using your toes to gather a towel
  • Take anti-inflammatories to deal with pain, only when combined with above treatment (remember this only masks the pain and can slow healing)
  • If this above treatment is not effective, see a podiatrist or orthopedist. A doctor may recommend physical therapy, prescribe orthotics, or utilize new sound wave technology to stimulate growth in the tissue.

Prevention:

The most critical element for preventing and treating plantar fasciitis is to warm and stretch the muscles of your feet and lower leg before you get out of bed. Muscles are 30% shorter in the morning than they will be mid-day. Placing all your body weight on your short, tight, cold muscle may lead to plantar fasciitis or make it worse. Increase activities like walking, hiking and running gradually. Stretch your calves after a long drive. To keep your feet strong, walk barefoot on a safe surface like grass, sand, or carpeting. Whether you are driving or out walking, make sure to wear supportive shoes that make your feet feel great.

Care for your feet that support you all day long and avoid painful plantar fasciitis.

By Christy Coughlin, Wellness Coach

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