Plantar Faciitis: What You Need to Know
Plantar fasciitis continues to be the most common foot ailment that we see in the store. Rarely does a day go by without at least one, if not more, customer telling the story of their foot pain.
Frequently the story entails an experience of over-activity, usually with very unsupportive shoes. Classic example: Mom goes to Disneyland with the fam for 2-3 days and walks each day in her favorite flips.
The plantar fascia is a normal and important part of foot anatomy, providing necessary support to the longitudinal arch. It is a tough, thick band that begins on the medial (inside) corner of the calcaneus (heel). It then fans out the base of each of the toes.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of this normal structure. It typically presents as a severe pain on the inside of the heel. Mornings are usually worst with the first initial steps being very painful. Also, arising to walk after a 1-2 hr. sit repeats the symptoms. A majority of patients are over-pronators (foot falls inward when walking). The other group have either normal arch height or are supinators.
The fascia overstretches in the case of the over-pronators causing the inflamed condition. Many people over-pronate, but may never experience plantar fasciitis. They are usually more sedentary and don’t create enough repetitions in their daily activities to aggravate anything. Not infrequently, these individuals have a desire to ‘get in shape’ and may overdo their initial attempts to condition.
The other group of individuals who have a normal arch frequently commit errors of overtraining. Examples are increasing speed or distance or adding a hill climb too quickly. A few individuals supinate (tend to walking to the outside of their feet). People with this foot type usually have a less flexible foot and do not absorb shock as well and this can be the source of their pain.
So what to do? Initially, Reduce your activity level until you have supportive shoes that resist pronation. Next, you may need additional arch support to help correct your foot position. There are some good over the counter supports that could provide the needed support. Icing the heel and arch can also help. Begin stretching exercises that stretch the arch and calf muscles. You should seek the help of a medical professional if these steps don’t help within 1-2 weeks. Occasionally, taping, custom orthotic supports, or injections are required to provide the necessary relief.
-Skip Chandler, CPed