What is Plantar Fasciitis?

What is Plantar Fasciitis? What are the causes, symptoms, and common risk factor?

foot pain chart

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves inflammation of a thick band of connective tissue (the plantar fascia) that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. Under normal circumstances, your plantar fascia acts like a shock-absorbing bowstring, supporting the arch in your foot. If tension and stress on that “bowstring” become too great, small tears can arise in the fascia. Repetitive stress and tearing can cause the fascia to become irritated or inflamed, although in many cases of plantar fasciitis, the cause isn’t completely clear.

Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel. The pain is usually the worst with the first few steps of the day. It can also be triggered by long periods of standing (especially on hard surfaces) or rising from a seated position. Usually, the pain is worse after exercise, not during it.


Common Risk Factors

Though plantar fasciitis can arise without an obvious cause, some common factors that can increase your risk of developing plantar fasciitis include:

  • Age: Plantar fasciitis is most common between the ages of 40 and 60.

  • Certain types of exercise: Activities that place a lot of stress on your heel and attached tissue, such as long-distance running, ballistic jumping activities, ballet dancing and aerobic dance, can contribute to an earlier onset of plantar fasciitis.

  • Foot mechanics: Being flat-footed, having a high arch or even having an abnormal pattern of walking can affect the way weight is distributed when you’re standing and put added stress on the plantar fascia.

  • Obesity: Excess pounds put extra stress on your plantar fascia.

  • Occupations that keep you on your feet: Factory workers, teachers, servers, and others who spend most of their work hours walking or standing on hard surfaces can damage their plantar fascia.

What You Can Do To Help/How To Treat

Although Plantar Fasciitis can feel debilitating and affect your normal activities, there are many things you can do to treat it. Earlier this week, we showed you a few different ways to stretch your calf muscles, as well as a great technique to strengthen the muscles of your foot using a towel. These techniques can be very useful in treating symptoms of this painful ailment. If you are experiencing plantar fasciitis, we hope you will check out this week’s blog: Stretching Sunday and Technique Tuesday