Plantar fasciitis is the most commonly treated condition by foot care professionals. However, there is a lot of confusion about what exactly it is, and how to treat it. We’ve created a short article to help you understand what the signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis are, as well as causes and some easy treatments to implement at home.
So your feet are hurting…but is it plantar fasciitis? The most common signs and symptoms we associate with this condition are:
- Severe pain with the first steps you take in the morning, along the main arch of your foot. As you move, the pain starts to decrease.
- Pain along the main arch of your foot upon standing after you have been seated, or resting.
- Greater discomfort after exercising, not during.
What causes plantar fasciitis? There are many factors that go into causing this condition, including:
- Biomechanics, i.e. how your body moves
- Foot structure
- Activity level change
- Occupation requirements, i.e. uncomfortable shoes, hard surfaces, long hours
- Improper footwear choices
So we know what it feels like, and some of the factors that can go into causing it… but why does it hurt?
It often helps to think of the plantar fascia as a structure that runs from your heel to the ball of your foot. As we walk, our arch naturally gives a little to help absorb shock, we foot care professionals call this pronation. People often believe it is abnormal for the foot to pronate, but in fact it is necessary to help our body deal with the force of walking and running. Plantar fasciitis can arise when this shock absorbing motion lasts for too long in the gait cycle, or goes through an excessive range. Inflammation and tiny rips start to develop in the overworked arch, and this is what causes the discomfort.
When we are at rest, or sleeping our arch is in a relaxed position and tends to be higher. Our bodies take this opportunity to repair some of the damage that we have caused during the day. When we jump out of bed in the morning, or get up from our work desks, our arch lowers, and we tear open the healing our body has done.
How do we prevent this vicious cycle of damaging the plantar fascia, starting the healing process, and re-damaging the plantar fascia?
My number one piece of advice for people suffering from plantar fasciitis symptoms is to:
- Do ankle rotations (think writing the alphabet with your foot) in the morning BEFORE getting out of bed. This helps to get blood flow to your foot and begins to warm it up before it is asked to work.
Additionally it is a good idea to:
- Gently stretch open the arch. Using a belt or towel around the ball of the foot pull the toes back towards the shin bone, opening up the arch.
- Before weight-bearing, slip shoes and/or shoes with orthotics on. This helps keep the arch in a more supported position and limits the amount of re-damage you are doing.
- Call a Canadian Certified Pedorthist for an assessment to determine what is causing your discomfort & a recommended treatment plan. Often just some advice on proper footwear for your activity and occupation will be enough to get you feeling better.
Thanks for reading! Please let us know if you have any questions – we’d love to hear from you.