Those first few excruciating steps upon getting out of bed in the morning are hallmark plantar fasciitis!
I’ve got that T-shirt! And so have 10% of the adult population. This is such a common condition that a foot specialist could run a practice just for this condition alone.
The plantar (sole of the foot) fascia (tissue) is a strong connective band that starts on the inside of the heel bone and spread through the arch towards the tendons of the toes. It is an important component of the arch of the foot and gives humans the spring to their step.
Any body part with an “itis” added to the end means inflammation of that part – plantar fasciitis. Often the traction of the fascia where it attaches to the heel causes calcium to be deposited, formed a “heel spur”…which sounds like an awful affliction but in reality, a spur just means the condition was coming on for quite a while before the pain.
The pain of plantar fasciitis is due to the inflammation of the tissues.
But let’s keep everything in perspective. Yes, it a startling reminder every time you go from resting to standing, and yes, it will be months and months before it goes away.
But plantar fasciitis is not life threatening and there are things you can do about it – some easy, some not so much. And the “not so much” things are mainly because people have developed lifestyle habits that are very hard to change.
The Risk Factors
Well there’s not much anyone can do about aging and plantar fasciitis usually doesn’t show up until well after 30.
Women seem to be more susceptible. Shoe choices perhaps?
Types of exercise
Yes, exercise is a risk factor, in particular too much weight bearing exercise like running.
How much is too much?
Not to be glib but when you have pain, you’ve run too much.
I have never been one of those doctors who looks over my starchy white lab coat, stating, “you need to stop running”. Firstly, I hate those coats and ditched mine the first month of practice and secondly, runners have selective hearing. They don’t recognize the words “stop” and “running” in the same sentence.
But… all good running addicts (and I’ve been one) will compromise with some cross-training.
Those with a BMI (or body mass index) over 30. Quite bluntly, those with too much weight for their height.
Those who stand on their feet for most of the day on hard surfaces.
Biomechanical issue of the foot
Those with foot type extremes (really flat or really high arches).
A recent study concluded that the #1 risk factor for plantar fasciitis is tight calf muscles.
- stretching the calf muscles
- some rest but this largely applies to the runners
- cross training if you are a weight bearing athlete (runners, soccer, rugby, basketball player)
- ice after long periods of standing/walking
- comfortable, stable shoes with a slight heel (less than 2″)
- foot orthoses if you have an extreme foot type (pancake or stork foot)
- more stretching of the calf (did I mention that calf tightness is the #1 risk factor?)
- kinesiology taping (review Kinesiology Taping Basics if you haven’t already done so)
2. Anchor a decompression strip on top of foot and wrap tape from outside to inside to support the arch. Some tension may be applied upwardly on inside arch, then releasing tension at the ends to limit skin irritation/adherence issues.