The plantar fascia is not a muscle or ligament. It is a long band of fibrous tissue on the bottom of the foot that helps to stabilize you and support the arch. Fibrous tissue does not have the same elastic properties as a muscle, so it requires increased time to see the benefits of stretching.
The plantar fascia starts at the heel bone and runs along the bottom of the foot. It eventually connects to the toes. The role of the plantar fascia is to support the arch of the foot during standing and functional activities. It plays a large role in balance and support with prolonged standing, walking, and running.
Plantar fasciitis is pain and inflammation of the plantar fascia tissue. This is due to repetitive stress, overstretching or overloading of the tissue. Due to the stress, small tears in the fibers of the fascia results, especially at the area of the heel, the origin of the plantar fascia. This may cause plantar fascia foot pain, most arch pain, or heel pain. To learn more about this condition, please watch this video.
Proper shoe wear plays a role when it comes to the development plantar fasciitis pain. Poorly constructed shoes, including heels and worn-out shoes, with less support, contribute to increased stress on the mid-foot and heel, resulting in symptoms. Those shoes with poor arch support, lack of heel cushion, or sole flexibility can also result in plantar fascia pain. Pregnancy and obesity also show relationships in the incidence of plantar fasciitis, possibly due to extra body weight on the foot. Bone spurs at the heel can also cause micro-tears at the Achilles tendon, altering gait, and resulting in irritation of the plantar fascia.
The most common plantar fascia symptom is foot pain/heel pain in the morning, following getting out of bed. The main complaint is usually sudden, intense heel pain that then subsides with the first few steps, but then returns late in the afternoon. There may be a pain in the ball of the foot on some occasions.
If you are not already feeling the heel pain, but do notice some irritation in the plantar fascia with first waking up in the morning or throughout the day, change your footwear NOW. It is important to be proactive in shoe wear and wear comfortable, supportive shoes most times of the day. To learn more about the prevention of this condition, please read Preventing Plantar Fasciitis. If you are already feeling heel pain, there are a couple of things you can do to address it.
Formal physical therapy can also be very helpful in the treatment of Plantar Fasciitis. Therapy can include:
Graston Technique, Medical Laser Treatments, Ultrasound, Orthotics or Foot Inserts, Stretching, Manual Therapy, custom orthotic inserts for your shoes and Strengthening.
To schedule an appointment with a JOI Foot & Ankle Specialist, call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below.