What is plantar fasciitis, causes, symptoms and how to treat it properly?
If you are suffering from niggling pains in your arches then you maybe suffering from a common foot injury called plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common running injuries around. Depending upon the severity of this foot injury it can cause mild to extreme pain in the arches, heels and soles of your feet.
Plantar fasciitis (also commonly referred to as Jogger’s Heel) is the inflammation of the plantar fascia. This ligament found in your foot stretches across your sole making up the arch of your foot. The plantar fascia is one of the most important ligaments in your feet helping to support your feet and propel you forward during the gait cycle. Plantar fasciitis is considered the most common cause of heel pain and it is estimated that between 4% and 7% of people who suffer from heel pain at any given time that 80% of those suffering is due to this foot injury. It is also estimated that approximately 10% individuals will suffer from this condition at some point during their lifetime. Plantar fasciitis is even more wide-spread amongst runners and athletes. Furthermore, individuals who are obese or individuals that wear shoes with poor support have also an increased risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
You will find various distinct causes that may trigger this particular injury. Amongst the most common causes are obesity, persistent standing over a prolonged period of time, and foot function and biomechanical problems such as over-pronation. These causes place plantar fascia under immense pressure and strain leading it to become damage and inflamed.
What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is thickening of the plantar fascia ligaments. The plantar fascia is a strong and stretchy a band of tissue spanning the sole of the foot that attaches your heel bone to your toes. The plantar fascia is vital for your foot to function properly when you walk as it is needed to shift weight to your foot and propel you forward during the gait cycle. Your plantar fascia also and acts as a kind of shock absorber to the foot stopping shock from damaging your feet when you walk. Sometimes plantar fasciitis can be confused with having a heel spur which is a painful small bony growth on the side of the heel. An easy way to see if you have plantar fasciitis or a heel spur/stress fracture is usually to walk on your toes: Pain associated with heel spurs and fractures often is relieved when walking on your tip toes, whilst plantar fasciitis pain will usuualy get worse when walking on your tip toes.
Continual small injuries to the plantar fascia are believed to be the root cause of plantar fasciitis. Your plantar fascia is designed to act a bit like a shock-absorbing bowstring, which supports the arch of your foot whilst you walk. However, if pressure and stress on that bowstring become too much the plantar fascia can become damaged as a result. Due to this reason this foot injury is more common in sports that involve a lot of running, dancing or jumping. Even though overuse is the trigger of plantar fasciitis, there are still various other things that can increase your chances of developing plantar fasciitis these include biomechanical imbalances such as over-pronation, a high arched foot, tight calf muscles, wearing poorly fitted shoes, being overweight or sustaining an injury to the foot. If the injury is not treated properly it can develop into plantar fasciosis, a chronic degeneration of the tendon and can cause permanent damage to the foot.
There are various risk factors that can make you more prone to developing this foot injury.
- As we age the plantar fascia in our feet can weaken leaving it more suceptible to overuse and damage.
- You’re are also at a greater risk of getting plantar fasciitis if you are overweight. This is because of the higher level of pressure that is exerted onto your plantar fascia ligaments because of your weight.
- If you play sports that cause abnormal stress on your feet or heel bone you also run the risk of damaging the plantar fascia and getting this painful injury. Furthermore, athletes that have tight calf muscles or a stiff ankle from an earlier ankle sprain which can, in turn, restricts ankle movement such as Running, dancing, and aerobics are more prone to over stretching and damaging the plantar fascia.
- Wearing shoes that are worn, do not have proper arch support and cushioning can increase your chances of developing this injury.
- Poor foot function can also be blamed. Having flat feet, high arches or even developing an abnormal gait such as overpronation can impact the way weight is shifted when you walk placing the plantar fascia under extra strain that it is not designed to cope with.
- Having a job that requires you to be on your feet all day. Factory workers, teachers, and other individual’s that spend most of their working day walking or standing on hard surfaces are at higher risk of damaging their plantar fascia and developing plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis commonly causes a sharp stabbing sensation underneath the foot near the heel. Pain is a generally worse first thing in the morning. When you get up and move more, pain usually subsides but can come back after long periods of being on your feet or after prolonged rest. If you have plantar fasciitis you may have tenderness under the sole of the foot and on the inside of the heel when touching the heel.
- Minimizing pain and inflammation in your feet should be the first priority when you are treating this foot injury. One way that you can do this is by using the PRICE protocol. PRICE stands for protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation is very helpful to help to reduce pain and inflammation in your feet.
- Secondly you should focus on getting rid of any of underlying causes that triggered your plantar fasciitis. To do this make sure that you are wearing correct footwear, have fitted orthotic shoe inserts into your shoes, and that you do regular foot stretching exercises.
- It might sound obvious but rest is is always best when it comes to treating plantar fasciitis. You should make sure to avoid walking barefoot or in very flat shoes as well.
- Make sure that you are wearing the correct type of shoes- It’s essential that your running shoes give your feet the right amount of shock absorption and the right level of support that your particular foot type requires.
- You should also try to protect the foot by making sure that you wear well fitted and comfortable shoes or trainers. You should avoid hard or flat soled shoes are not a good for your feet, as these types of shoes will typically make your symptoms worse.
- Research has proven that doing regular stretching exercises can help. Stretching the sole of your foot, combined with exercising and strengthening your legs (specifically the calf and Achilles tendon), minimizes tissue adhesion, improves your foot function, and helps improve the range of motion in your feet. This in turn can help with your recovery and ease your foot pain.
How insoles can work to treat plantar fasciitis
When treating this foot injury it is important to try to improve the way that you walk. Improving the function of your feet and eliminating pronation problems can have a positive impact on your whole body. Recent studies have demonstrated that various foot injuries as well as other physiological complaints that can occur throughout the body such as heel pain, knee pain, and lower back pain can be eased by improving your foot function. Wearing arch support insoles is an easy and quick way to do this.
Arch support insoles help to realign your feet into a natural position and use compression technology to help correct gait and prevent biomechanical and functional problems from damaging your feet. Wearing arch support insoles can also help to provide your feet with protection and stop the build up of pressure underneath your heel from damaging your feet enabling your foot to recover and heal itself.
Here at Shoewawa we stock a wide range of orthotic insoles for plantar fasciitis which has all been designed specially to help correct biomechanical imbalances, improve foot function and support the foot properly in order to ease symptoms and treat the underlying causes linked to the plantar fasciitis.
If you do not know what insoles to buy then your Podiatrists can help you by recommending the best insoles or orthotic to put inside your footwear.