Have you ever woke up in the morning from an amazing nights sleep only to have your feet hurt so bad you can barely walk? How about sitting at your desk for eight hours a day to get home, and you can barely make it up the front steps to your front porch? That is exactly what thousands of people feel every single days. This condition is call Plantar Fasciitis. I bet you are asking “What is Plantar Fasciitis, and what are the causes and treatments?”
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common ailments that affect people who spend a lot of time on their feet, individuals that love to run for exercise, and people who tend to be overweight. Plantar Fasciitis causes pain from the bottom of the foot, heel, and even up into you calf muscle.
Within the foot there is a ligament that stretches from your toes to your heel called the plantar fascia. This ligament takes the brunt of forces when you are walking, running, jumping, and stretching. Over time the plantar fascia develops little tears within the ligament which can cause inflammation, stiffness and pain. This pain will be anywhere from the bottom of your foot, the heel of your foot, and even your calf.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
With plantar fasciitis many people get incredible pain in their heel. Pain also affects the bottom of the foot just below the heel, and pain can also affect the arch of the foot. The plantar fascia is the main ligament that supports the arch of the foot. Pain within these areas come on gradually. It may start with pain in the calves of your legs, pain in your heel or within the arch of the foot.
Pain from the fascia is usually felt mostly in the morning. As we sleep our muscles relax, and our feet drop causing the fascia to be stretched. The repeated stretching of the ligament causes tears and inflammation. The irritation of the fascia can also happen with exercise, sitting for long periods of time, and also in people who like to engage in running for exercise. Pain you feel make walking, running, standing, and climbing stairs very difficult.
Causes and Risk Factors
Active men and women are susceptible to plantar fasciitis. Healthcare workers, first responders, police, long distance runners, or anyone that works in jobs where they spend a lot of time on their feet. Pregnant women often get symptoms later in pregnancy.
Some risk factors of plantar fasciitis include:
- Obesity – Excess weight on the body causes extra stress on the legs and feet. This causes extra stress on the ligaments in your feet.
- Age – Average age of people who get symptoms is 40 – 60 years of age. Plantar Fasciitis can strike even anyone before the age of 40 depending on their activity.
- Career – Depending on your career you can get plantar fasciitis. Healthcare workers, factory workers, teachers, postal workers, and any other job that may require you to stand or walk on hard surfaces.
- Foot Type – Every one has a different type of foot mechanics. Many people have flat feet or high arches. These types of feet put a lot of tension on the plantar fascia. Walking pattern or how you stand can also pull on that ligament.
- Exercise – Certain types of exercise can cause you to tear the plantar fascia. Long distance runners are the most common to be affected. Weight lifters, aerobics and dancers can put added stress on the ligament as well.
- Foot wear – The proper type of foot wear is key. Wear soft sole shoes cause a lot of stress on the bottom of your feet. Also, wearing sandles, flip-flops, and high heels will also cause symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Foot wear must be supportive of the arch and heel of the foot.
Treatments & Home Exercises
Plantar Fasciitis is treatable. Many people can simply do home exercises to relieve the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Getting proper shoes that will support your feet, and cushion the impact on your feet will help relieve the inflammation of the plantar fascia.
Treatments to combat the pain of plantar fasciitis include:
- Rest – once you start to feel discomfort within the heel of your foot when exercising or long distance running you should rest your feet. Give your feet time to relax for a week or two to help relieve the inflammation.
- Ice – Apply ice to the bottom and back side of your heel. Also, take a bottle of water, and place it in the freezer. Take the frozen bottle out of the freezer, and roll it on the bottom of your foot from toe to heel for 5-10 minutes. Repeat on the other foot.
- Stretching – Proper stretching is extremely important prior to exercising. once you are a long distance runner it is extremely important to make sure all your muscles are well stretched prior to starting your run. Running places a lot of pressure on the soles of your feet.
- Routine – Changing up your routine might help. once you do a lot of running you could change up your routine. Instead of running everyday you can maybe do lower impact activities such as swimming.
- Braces – Wearing splints while you are sleeping is a great idea. Wearing these splints at night it will keep your foot from dropping. These splints will stretch your calf, and arch because it keeps your foot in a flexed position. This flexed position allows for the plantar fascia to be stretched taking the pressure off the ligament.
- Support – Choosing supportive shoes or Orthotics within your shoes will give your arch support. This will keep the ligament in a neutral position relieving some pain you experience.
Plantar Fasciitis can make life difficult. Pain can make you discouraged in attempting your exercise routine. Prevention is the key. Taking care of your body includes taking care of your feet. Proper diet and exercise will keep your body from having a sudden weight gain. Eating protein rich foods will help build muscle. High Impact exercise uses a lot of nutrients. Eating foods high in protein will help rebuild your muscle from the rigors of exercise.
Another way of prevention is making sure you have the proper shoes. Wearing comfortable supportive shoes to protect your feet when running, walking or having long episodes of standing on hard surfaces. Brands that tend to promote the best options for support Asics, Brooks, Saucony, and New Balance. I highly recommend Asics Gel Kayano or Gel Nimbus as they provide a supportive sole to the shoe. The way to tell if the shoes have enough is to take the toe of the show and bend it up and down. If the sole of the shoe folds than there is no support for your feet. Job’s that require you to dress up in more professional attire, you should wear shoes that are flat. Wearing high heels can cause your plantar fascia to be flexed for too long of a period causing damage to the ligament. Try wearing a flat shoe with a solid sole to give your arch and heel support throughout your work day.
Lower exercises worked into your routine might help take a lot of the pressure off your feet. once you are a person who loves to run maybe taking time off from running might help. Properly stretching before and after exercising to keep your muscles in top performance.
Supplements might help give added nutrition to your body that can help you in perfect form. Vitamins such as Vitamin C, Zinc, Glucosamine, and Fish Oil are some best for people who exercise on a regular basis. The best way to get the best nutrients is to eat a well-balanced meal and including meats high in protein such as chicken and fish.
Don’t forget to do your home stretches when you get up in the morning, before you exercise, and even before you go to bed. The best time to stretch in the morning and at night after you shower as the hot water will help relax the muscles to allow and easier time to stretch. Take time for yourself to go to the spa and get a nice massage will help keep your muscles relaxed.
Best Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis
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