Heel Pain- What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Heel Pain?

Do you have terrible heel pain and/or arch pain when you step on your feet after resting, or when you wake up in the morning? You may have plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia is a soft tissue structure that connects the heel bone to the toes. It can also be continuous with the Achilles tendon. It is not uncommon for people with tight Achilles tendons to develop plantar fasciitis at some point in their lives. There are many things that can cause plantar fasciitis. From a past foot/ankle sprain, to overuse simply by increasing activity. Very commonly seen in the “weekend warrior” or even in elite athletes who increase mileage or pace while training for an event i.e Marathon running.


Although, foot type may play a role, both high arch and low arch (flat feet) are well represented in the plantar fasciitis world.

High Arches: High arch patients are known to have poor shock absorbing feet because the foot structure does not adapt to the terrain they are walking on. The constant shock can cause inflammation of the plantar fascia and cause pain that can be transmitted as high as the neck if left untreated.

Flat Feet: People with flat feet have severe imbalances in their foot structure measured in degrees of deformity of the heel, causing an abnormal pull of the plantar fasciitis. This becomes more troublesome as we increase the pace of walking. Normal walking transmits a force of 11/2 times your body weight, jogging 21/2 times and running almost 31/2. You must multiply any degree of deformity by this force factor. A 3 degree deformity of the heel becomes problematic when you factor in the body weight force. 3 x 11/2 = 41/2 x your body weight when walking. To put it simply, a 100 lb person walking with a 3 degree imbalance of their heel is transmitting a 450 lb force through his/her feet and body. A sure recipe for pain and inflammation.

In both cases, the constant strain of repetitive stresses on the foot can result in additional spur formation on the bottom and/or back of the heel commonly known as a heel spur.

Heel Pain Plantar Fasciitis

What You Can Do?

  1. Ice Massage. Place a bottle of water in the freezer, take it out and roll the bottom of the feet on it for 10 minutes in the AM and PM.
  2. Stretching- Take a towel or one of those fancy Therabands(R) and stretch your toes towards your nose with it. Hold the stretch for 5 seconds, no bouncing as this will cause more pain. Remember to breathe when stretching.
  3. Arch Support for Flat Feet Refer to your Podiatrist for orthotics and invest in high quality shoes for your feet. We suggest and also offer the Vionic brand of shoes in our office.
  4. Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDS) Taking the correct dosage of NSAIDS can help aid in the reduction of inflammation resulting in a decrease of pain. Of course, this is a temporary solution. Caution for those with Stomach Ulcers, Asthma, Bleeding or Allergies- please consult with your family Doctor.

If you believe you have plantar fasciitis, see your Podiatrist as soon as possible for proper treatment.  Solutions include: a foot x-ray, steroid injection, physical therapy, shock wave therapy, custom footwear and as a last resort, surgery.

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