You wake up first thing in the morning and you step onto the floor. Immediately you feel pain on the bottom of your foot close to the heel. You carefully step your way through your morning routine until the pain begins to fade. Later, you head out for a run. As you begin your run the pain in your foot returns, but you hobble along until it again fades. You repeat this routine for days or even weeks, but eventually the pain does not fade.
If this sounds familiar then it is likely you have experienced or are experiencing plantar fasciitis (perhaps better termed plantar fasciosis, meaning deterioration of the plantar fascia). Simply put, this is irritation to the connective tissue that crosses the long arch of your foot. When you stop walking and running (especially when sleeping) the tissue begins to tighten. Those first steps before the tissue stretches back out are the most painful.
Why do some people get this condition and not others? Lack of support for the arch of the foot is the simple answer. In the body muscles and ligaments support joints. Muscles should be our primary means of support, but when those muscles fail in their job ligaments are the back-up plan.
The foot and lower leg are filled with muscles that support the arches of your feet. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue, like a ligament, that crosses the whole bottom of the foot from back to front. Its primary job is to assist these muscles in holding up the arch of the foot.
If the small muscles on the bottom of the foot and the longer ones from the lower leg are not strong enough then this may cause too much stress on the plantar fascia and cause pain with regular use. Some individuals may also have unusually high or low foot arches that cause increased stress and result in the same problem.
Ice/anti-inflammatories, stretching, and deep tissue massage can help plantar fasciitis. In order for the condition to be resolved, however, the support for the arch of the foot must be improved. Strengthening muscles can often be a simple solution, but in more severe cases a special shoe or an orthotic may be necessary to provide ample support.
If you are experiencing on-going symptoms of foot pain, don’t wait to get it resolved. The longer you experience the pain, the worse the injury will become. It’s always easier to fix an injury when it’s a small one.
Dr. Eagar is a dual credentialed provider with degrees in sports medicine, chiropractic medicine, and exercise science. Dr. Eagar owns Active Advantage, a private sports medicine practice with an emphasis on rehabilitation and chronic injury management. He enjoys answering questions and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more general information you can visit his website http://www.activeadvantagechiro.com.