Spring is a season of beginnings - trees begin to flower, the lawn begins to grow - and as humans begin to ramp up physical activity in the nice weather, it is also the beginning of "plantar fasciitis" season!
Plantar fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis) is one of the most common causes of heel pain, and occurs when the strong band of tissue that supports the arch of your foot becomes irritated and inflamed.
The plantar fascia is a long, thin ligament that lies directly beneath the skin on the bottom of your foot. It is designed to absorb the high stresses and strains we place on our feet. But, sometimes, too much pressure damages or tears the tissues. The body's natural response to injury is inflammation, which results in the heel pain and stiffness of plantar fasciitis.
Although in many cases, there is no single "cause" for plantar fasciitis, new or increased activity is definitely a major risk factor. Other factors that can contribute include:
- Tight calf muscles that make it difficult to flex your foot and bring your toes up toward your shin
- Age (40-60 at highest risk)
- Very high arch
- Repetitive impact activity like running or jumping
- Overuse - excessive use of feet without a break i.e. working long shifts on feet continually.
- Excessive barefoot around the house or soft slippers (may be top cause in our store)
Ignoring plantar fasciitis may result in chronic heel pain that can impact your regular activities. Changing the way you walk to minimize pain can lead to foot, knee, hip or back problems. So it's important to get an evaluation and accurate diagnosis for plantar fasciitis. And treat the issue before its out of hand which massively impacts your healing time.
Over the years, our customers have reported a number of "fixes" that have proven to be helpful, including:
- Rolling the foot on top of a soda bottle half filled with frozen water
- Rolling tennis ball along bottom of foot (Ichiro does this daily)
- Calf-stretching (with shoes on!) And stick to it!
Support is critical in the healing process. Remove all soft slippers from the shoe mix while healing - you need a stiff mid-foot and adequate cushion. Typically a high quality athletic shoe with arch support (over the counter or custom) is crucial in healing. You may even need to wear them as "slippers" around the house during the initial healing stage!
After healing is complete, choose supportive shoes. Avoid high heels. Buy shoes with a low to moderate heel, good arch support and shock absorbency. Don't go barefoot, especially on hard surfaces, and don't wear worn-out athletic shoes. Replace your old athletic shoes before they stop supporting and cushioning your feet. If you're a runner, buy new shoes after about 400 to 500 miles of use.