Foot Health

More Plantar Fasciitis Information

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fascia is a band of fibrous tissue that runs the entire length of the bottom (plantar surface) of the foot, beginning at the heel bone (calcaneus) and extending to the base of the toes (metatarsal joints). The purpose of the plantar fascia tissue is to maintain or support the integrity of the longitudinal arch.

Plantar Fasciitis is an overuse injury. Excessive stretching of the plantar fascia causes the tissue to become inflamed, enabling the tiny micro fibers to tear. The body then tries to protect this area by plastering the fascia with calcium. This, in turn, is how a heel spur can form. The calcium forms a fish hook-like spur on the base of the heel bone in an attempt to maintain its connection with the fascia tissue, hence a heel spur or heel pain diagnosis.

Conditions that Contribute to Plantar Fasciitis or Heel Pain Syndrome

  • Over-pronation (flat feet) the arch collapses or flattens while walking or running.
  • A very high-arched foot − the plantar fascia is stretched taut with every step.
  • Stiff-soled shoes − don't flex with the foot, putting extra strain on the plantar fascia.
  • Worn-out shoes − no longer support the arch or foot.
  • Improper shoe selection or fit.
  • A sudden change in activity − going from a sit-down job to a standing job.
  • A sudden change in level of physical activity − beginning an exercise program too vigorously.
  • A sudden change in environment − switching from standing on carpet all day to concrete.
  • Excessive weight on feet, usually pregnancy or obesity or heavy lifting.
  • Tight heel cords (Achilles Tendon) − cause an inordinate stretch of the plantar fascia.

Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

Unfortunately, if left untreated, plantar fasciitis can become a chronic problem. The good news is that about 90% of patients improve significantly within two months of starting treatment . When experiencing severe pain or swelling, always consult a physician. Plantar Fasciitis is not the only cause of heel pain. It is a common cause, but there are many things such as a heel spur, a stone bruise or tendinitis that could be mistaken for plantar fasciitis. It is best to let a doctor sort it out.

  • Rest is helpful, but is often a short-term solution. A physician may prescribe anti-inflammatories, but this does not usually represent a long-term answer either.
  • Supportive shoes with a significant arch support system and soft, cushioned soles are critical.
  • Remember to put on shoes or sandals before jumping out of bed. That first unprotected step in the morning can disrupt whatever healing occurred overnight. Avoid going barefoot.
  • Stretching exercises are a key component to recovery.
  • Over-the-counter arch supports and insoles can provide significant support and cushioning.
  • In more severe cases, your physician may prescribe a custom orthoses. Our in-store certified pedorthists can fill this prescription and fit the orthoses in your New Balance shoes.

Select information courtesy of Pedorthic Footwear Association.

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