What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The condition is very common around the world, with around 1 in 10 people getting it at some point in their lifetime. It is among the most common causes of foot bottom pain as well as heel pain. Because of the severe pain it causes, it ends up having an enormous impact on our day to day activities like standing and walking. Although plantar fasciitis may result from a variety of factors, such as repeated hill workouts or tight calves, many sports specialists believe that it is mostly caused by the straining of the ligament connecting the heel bone of your foot to the toes. The pain is usually at its worst when you take your first steps after getting up from your bed in the morning, or after prolonged periods of rest when there is no weight on your foot. Some other possible causes are age, improper footwear, having a faulty foot structure and overpronation (feet rolling inward).
This condition affects the thick ligaments on the underside of your foot. This membrane is called the plantar fascia; hence the condition’s name. Swelling of the plantar fascia is what causes pain, which is most intense with the day’s first footsteps. Moreover, if you frequently bend your foot, say when you are running, you may be at higher risk for this condition. You will not be surprised to learn that plantar fasciitis mainly affects runners, hikers, walkers and almost everyone who stands up all day for a living (cashiers, etc.). The condition is prevalent among the middle-aged people. Additionally, you’re more likely to develop the condition if you’re female or overweight. Individuals who have flat feet or high arches also have a tendency of developing the condition more often than those who do not.
It is among the most common orthopedic disorders. It results when your plantar fascia experiences too much wear and tear in your daily life. Typically, these ligaments support the arch of the foot by acting as shock absorbers. Too much pressure on your foot can tear these ligaments, causing the plantar fascia to become inflamed. Most people experience several symptoms such as stiffness and pain at the back of the heel. However, many people don’t understand the causes of the condition. You need to know that the condition has various causes. Most of the time, the conditions stems from poor foot biomechanics. These, in turn, can have their own cause.
In orthopedics and sports medicine, there are many kinds of painful foot conditions to be found. However, the condition is one of the most common and painful ones. It will not cause any other symptoms besides the pain that it causes. Sometimes the diagnosis of the disease may be difficult, because people who suffer from it ignore the symptoms, thinking it is temporary and that it will go away on its own.
You need to differentiate between plantar fasciitis and heel spurs or pain from walking on flat feet. Although they are related, they are different disorders which must not be confused. The most famous fact about this condition is that it is very stubborn and potentially chronic. Some people think the condition is a result of heel spurs, but this is not the case. When struck by this very debilitating affliction, you must evaluate your situation. Figure out your main causes, and then take action to prevent escalation and cure it.
Many people conflate this condition with policeman’s heel. In reality, the latter is actually a condition known as plantar calcaneal bursitis. Yet another name to describe PF is runner’s heel, which indeed means the same as plantar fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis Types
There are two types of PF. Namely traction and compression fasciitis. Both produce foot pain, but in different ways.
1. Traction Plantar Fasciitis
Stretching of the legs causes swelling of the feet. In other words, the plantar fascia becomes overstretched, causing pain to your arch muscles. The primary reason for this type is poor bio-mechanics of the feet, which elongates the arch.
2. Compression Plantar Fasciitis
Injuries of this kind have a traumatic history. The most likely trauma is landing on a sharp object, which bruises your plantar fascia. The location of the pain is under your arch rather than your heel. In most cases, it is confused with a so called fat pad contusion.
Plantar Fasciitis Development
The condition develops in the morning. It starts with mild pain at your heel bone. Most people refer to it as a stone bruise. Moreover, the pain is severe when you’ve had your rest. However, you need to know that having foot pain at night may be a different problem; probably arthritis or a nerve problem like tarsal tunnel syndrome. As the condition deteriorates, you may feel pain more often. Development follows the following steps:
- No heel pain (normal condition).
- Heel pain felt after practice.
- Heel pain before and after practice.
- Heel pain before, during and after practice.
- Heel pain most of the time. Even at rest.
Sports which strain the heel bone and its attached tissues can cause plantar fasciitis. The risk increases if you have a stiff ankle or tight calf muscles, as they limit ankle movement. You need to wear shoes that enable movement of your ankles during aerobics, ballet dancing and running. You may also want to improve on your running and landing techniques. It will save you from experiencing a whole week of pain.
2. Being Overweight
Carrying around excess weight increases stress on your plantar fascia. Overpronation will occur in your walking process, upon bearing your excess weight. To control this problem, you need to lose weight and wear shoes that support your arches.
Like being overweight, you are carrying around more weight than usual when you are pregnant. Pregnancy can lead to a deviation in your biomechanics, causing a different kind of stress on the plantar fascia than what it is used to. The problem is much common during late pregnancy, because at this stage you will weigh the heaviest. Avoid shoes with soft soles as they may exacerbate the problem.
4. Flat Feet and High Foot Arches
If you change the arch support of your foot to something it’s not used to by buying new shoes or just insoles, you are at risk of changing its entire shock absorbing ability. It’s possible that the plantar fascia now needs to stretch or strain more to absorb the force of shocks. It this happens, the foot can sometimes swell. This, in turn, can lead to PF.
5. Getting Older
They say old is gold. However, when it comes to your feet, it is associated with many problems. It’s common knowledge that when you reach middle age, your foot may begin to sag. It leads to extra stress on the plantar fascia, putting you at greater risk of developing the condition.
6. Wearing Shoes With Poor Support
Often, poorly designed footwear can cause injury to your feet. Seek healthcare practitioner’s advice if you have a problem with your shoes. Avoid switching from supportive footwear to flip-flops or barefoot. Moreover, during any activities, avoid wearing shoes that have any heels.
Diabetes has left many doctors wondering as they cannot explain its relationship with PF. Although there is no factual reason, the condition frequently occurs in people with diabetes.
Some arthritis types cause inflammation of the tendons at the bottom of your feet. This can sometimes develop into full blown PF.
How To Recognize Plantar Fasciitis?
The pain exhibits itself the most during the first steps in the morning or moments after rest.
The signs manifested by this condition are extreme pain and stiffness at the bottom of the heel or the mid heel area. The degree of the pain varies in different people.
The pain intensifies with the increase of inflammation. Any particular stress on the heels like climbing the stairs can cause the pain to intensify.
How To Treat Plantar Fasciitis At Home?
The first aid therapy is aimed at lessening the pain by reducing inflammation. This, however, does not address the underlying issue.
Treating plantar fasciitis helps to speed up recovery and also ease the pain. Besides surgery, there are several other effective techniques that can be used at home to relieve the pain, including gentle regular exercises such as stretching. Stretching the foot gently helps to identify toe weakness. It helps in loosening the tendons and also in identifying the most affected area of the foot. Calf stretching in the morning before taking the first steps is also important.
When the muscles in your calf are very tight, they they end up pulling on the heel bone. This will not only make your ligaments very taut but also prone to injuries. To help loosen those muscles, you can use a towel or belt and then looping it around the ball of your foot. Keep your leg straight and gently pull them towards your body until you feel a stretch around the lower part of your legs. Standing with your toes stepping on the stair step and your heels dropping down off the step also gives a good stretch.
The other exercise that can help loosen irritated tissues is pulling your toes up using your hand until you feel the ball of the foot stretching. You may feel the stretch anywhere from your foot ball to your heel. Hold this position for several minutes and then release. Massaging the foot gently using a tennis ball is also a cheaper alternative. Placing the ball on the ground and then rolling it under the foot for a couple of minutes can assist in loosening up the plantar fascia making it less irritable.
You can also apply ice packs to assist in diminish some of the common symptoms and control heel pain. The icing is also helpful after having an acute exacerbation of symptoms, and is known to be an effective way of keeping inflammation in check. Shoe inserts are also one of the keys to effective treatment of plantar fasciitis. Shoe inserts are designed to allow patients to continue with their normal activities without pain.
These simple exercises can help maintain the flexibility of the foot and prevent the condition from developing again. They are designed to relax the body tissues surrounding the heel bone. For better results, it is advisable that you avoid strenuous activities. For example, you can take a few days off, without jogging, running or prolonged standing and walking. Resting usually assists in getting rid of the most severe heel pain, and also allow the inflammation in your feet to begin cooling down.
Wearing sturdy shoes and performing stretch exercises can help to remedy the situation. The shoes will offer better support while the exercises help improve the blood circulation. Over the counter pain relievers can also be used to ease the pain.
Visiting the Doctor For a Diagnosis
When home remedies fail to work, it is wise to visit a doctor who will do comprehensive tests to establish the extent of the damage and rule out any other possible causes of the pain.
A physical examination is done by a physician to check the condition of the ligaments and tendons. This helps in establishing the source of the pain and to rule out any other problems. This is done by flexing the muscles to establish its strength. The power of the muscles will be checked along with the reflexes, muscle tone, coordination, and balance.
The doctor could recommend a steroid injection in the problem area. An ultrasound may be used to determine the precise point of the injection. A physical therapist can help in performing exercises that will stretch the muscles of the plantar fascia and the muscle tendons.
Plantar Fasciitis Long Term Effects
The condition can lead to injuries to the back, legs, hips, and knees. Regular use of steroids could cause negative health problems.
Plantar fasciitis is an uncomfortable condition that can make simple tasks like walking awkward and difficult. It is usually prevented by watching your weight, thereby reducing the strain on the ligaments. Proper shoes should be worn at all times. Ill-fitting shoes, or shoes that are too soft, do not provide enough support. They are the main culprits that cause this condition.
Home remedies aimed at reducing inflammation, lessen the pain. Pain relievers and ice packs are most often used as first aid therapies.
When the pain does not recede, a visit to the doctor for steroid injections and physical therapy would be the next step to alleviating and curing this painful condition.
What Shoes and Insoles are Best for Plantar Fasciitis?
Let’s recap. The plantar fascia is the ligament in the foot connecting the toes at the heel bone of your feet. This tissue offers support to the arch of your foot. Sometimes this ligament gets strained and gets weak and inflamed. This health condition is referred to as plantar fasciitis.
A person suffering from this affliction, needs appropriately designed and modeled shoes that will help ease the pain and inflammation. But what shoes, boots and insoles are best for plantar fasciitis? Answering this question is important to assist the millions of people around the world who suffer from this chronic condition.
Sufferers should purchase the right type of orthotic foot insert that suits the particular condition. This also means that customers should get an accurate diagnosis of the shape of the feet. It is also important to choose insoles that have been tested and approved by other users rather than untested, cheaper insoles.
Examples Of Good Plantar Fasciitis Insoles
1. Superfeet Blue Premium Insoles
One of the most high-rated and trusted insole for plantar fasciitis is Superfeet Blue Premium. This is a handmade insole that boasts reliability and high performance. These soles are especially perfect for people with plenty of shoes, as the soles fit most types of shoes. They are comfortable yet firm while offering sufficient support to the foot.
2. Sole Custom Footbeds Ultra
The SOLE Custom Footbeds are great for active people, including athletes such as long distance runners. Individuals can run or walk long distances in relative comfort and sufficient support. Enjoying sporting or leisure events pain-free is a relief lots of plantar fasciitis sufferers would appreciate. A lot of people have reportedly been pain-free within three days of starting to use these soles.
3. Full length orthotics by Envelop
The pain and discomfort associated with plantar fasciitis can be excruciating. This is why there is the Full Length Orthotics by Envelop. These insoles were designed and tested by a team of insoles specialists and expert designers. These insoles have been tested and approved, can be worn all day and help to relieve pain and other problems caused by this condition.
Examples Of Good Plantar Fasciitis Shoes
1. Orthaheel Women’s Walker Athletic Shoes
This is one of the best athletic shoes available for women in the market today. It is ideally a shoe designed for walking and for any active individual. It was designed by a team of podiatrists to provide comfort and maximum support for busy people.
2. Vionic Women’s Tahoe Lace Up
This is a less sporty shoe and more suitable for casual and informal settings. It is a high-quality shoe that provides sufficient support and relief from pain and swelling. The lining on the inside allows the feet to breathe. The Vionic Tahoe comes in a variety of colors and has a sleek and attractive design.
Don’t ignore heel pain. It can escalate and turn into a long term, or even a chronic thing.
There is no need to suffer from heel pain more than necessary. There are plenty of shoes, insoles and treatments available on the market which are capable of effectively preventing and/or battling this condition.