Plantar Fasciitis is a foot condition that causes moderate to extreme pain in the heel to arch region of the foot.
It affects the plantar fascia, connective tissue running between your heel and the base of your toes.
The condition has many possible causes, but the most common factor is an increase in foot-related activity, including, but not limited to, physical training.
Understanding the various conditions which can lead to plantar fasciitis can help you to not only treat the condition, but to prevent it in the first place.
The main symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain.
This pain can range from a moderate pain, more akin to a discomfort than full-blown pain, all the way up to sharp, debilitating pain.
The location of the pain can vary, but it will run along a line from the middle of the heel, along the arch, ending at the base of the toes.
The pain is the result of tears in the tissue itself.
The general cause of plantar fasciitis is increased strain on the foot. This increased strain can come in many shapes and sizes, including:
- Starting increased physical activity involving your feet.
- Overtraining in activities such as running, impact exercises or other foot related activities.
- Wearing worn out shoes or cheap shoes of poor design.
- Failing to stretch and warm up properly before exercising.
- Physiological factors such as flat feet, high arches or a taught, untrained Achilles tendon.
The best way to treat plantar fasciitis is to prevent it in the first place—the proverbial ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.
While some of the causes are physiological, such as flat feet or a tight Achilles, many are external, and thus, completely preventable.
First and foremost on the list must be the choice of proper footwear.
If you know you are going to be using your feet a lot, whether it is in exercise or just daily activity, invest in shoes that will protect your feet from unnecessary strain.
The amount of money saved by purchasing cheap shoes is never worth the aggravation those cheap shoes can cause in the end.
Another way to prevent plantar fasciitis is to train at a rate appropriate to your physiological condition.
If you are starting a new exercise or activity, take it slow.
Give your body time to adjust to the new demands that it faces.
Your body adapts to your lifestyle, so if you go from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active lifestyle, you need to give your body time to adjust.
In our efforts to rush results we can cause far more harm than good.
Lastly, take the necessary time to warm up before exercising.
This is especially true if you have any conditions such as flat feet or a tight Achilles tendon.
Failure to take extra time to nurture those conditions will result in painful, unnecessary injury, one that is totally avoidable.
Also, running and training on soft surfaces will severely reduce the stress on your feet, and thus, go a long way to preventing plantar fasciitis.
When the ounce of prevention has been skipped, then there is the pound of cure.
One method of treatment is massaging the arches of your feet. This can be done several ways, but the best methods are using a small, hard ball like a golf ball or baseball, or to use a bottle of frozen water.
The advantage to the frozen water bottle is that it adds the healing property of cold, which serves to reduce inflammation.
Stretching your toes back toward your shin will also help stretch out the muscles, and thus relax the tension on the plantar fascia.
Like most conditions our bodies experience, plantar fasciitis is an indication that we aren’t doing something quite right.
If we listen to what our body is saying, we will understand that simply changing our behavior can make all the difference.
Taking extra time to warm up for exercising, wearing proper footwear for all activities, and not pushing ourselves too hard will go a long way to avoiding the stress and injury that results in plantar fasciitis.