What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Everyone has their feet full of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. They also have a connective tissue called “fascia.” There is a large band of this tissue which is known as “plantar fascia. Thus, plantar fasciitis could be described as a connective tissue that runs just across the bottom of your toes and back to your heel.
Plantar fasciitis is the most prevalent cause of foot pain. It often occurs as a result of the irritation and inflammation of these connective tissue bands. It is usually addressed as a “sharp pain in the heel,” which happens the most on every first step you take in the morning.
If your plantar fascia gets torn and probably inflamed, the pains that come from it can limit the duration at which you stand on your feet.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
A lot of research has been consulted to get what the actual causes of Plantar Fasciitis are. Thus, it has been obtained that a combination of factors may lead to this difficulty.
First, it has been established that Plantar Fasciitis occurs due to the structural breakdown of the tissue at the bottom of the feet, which connects the heel bone to the toe.
However, the following factors have also been discovered to increase you and heighten your risk of getting plantar fasciitis. These include:
- Certain abnormalities in your plantar fascia may include increased nerve endings, thickening, alteration in tissue composition, and little tears.
- A limited ability to move your ankle joins in an up-and-down position, which could cause further tension on the heel bone.
- Some tight muscles present in your calf, hamstring, or even the Achilles tendon could create pressure on the heel bone.
- Low and high arches can increase stress on the plantar fascia with foot strike.
- Overpronation could also occur should you have a foot that rolls inward and outward as you walk by.
- There could be degeneration in the big heel pad.
- Age and gender could also be contributing factors. Plantar fasciitis happens mostly in women between the ages of 40 and 60 years.
- Excessive weight or obesity usually adds pressures of stress and strain on the plantar fascia.
- Commencing a new exercise program.
- Job and occupations which makes standing on surfaces for longer period unavoidable.
- Sporting and other activities may cause overusing of the plantar fascia and add further stress on it. This may include soccer, running, dancing, and other activities that require speed within a distance, time, or a continuous impact on the feet.
- Certain shoes and wears could strain your plantar fascia. This includes high heels and those without an arch and heel base. Worn-out shoes could equally be disastrous.
Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms
There are certain symptoms to make you decipher if you have plantar fasciitis. But depending on the type of feet you have and the activities you carry out, plantar fasciitis might initiate a sharp pain in your heel or even occur over time as the pain worsens.
We have brought you a list of symptoms. If you suffer from some (or all) of them, your heel pain is most likely afflicted with plantar fasciitis:
- Sharp pain on the “first step” taken in the morning.
- Pains when standing or walking after a long sitting period.
- Pains increase after standing on a surface for a long time.
- The pain subsides at first in an activity but reappears later in the afternoon or evening.
- Pain becomes worse and unbearable at the base of your heel.
- Pain may fluctuate, appearing intermittently lasting for months or years.
- Pain as a result of a mild heel swelling.
Plantar Fasciitis Relief
If you have any of the aforelisted symptoms, listed below are some ways to relieve pain from plantar fasciitis:
- Rest: The healing process cannot be effected without rest. If you feel pain while standing or walking, try to take as many breaks as possible and reduce the time spent on your feet.
- Keep a healthy weight: You should try as much as possible to maintain a healthy weight. When you carry extra weight, you would be exerting more stress on your plantar fascia.
- Wear selective shoes: Buying selected shoes is important. Get shoes with low or moderate heels, thick soles, and ones with very good arch support. Do not walk barefooted.
- Swap sports: You can change the kind of sports you participate in if it gives your plantar fascia stress. You can try a low-impact sport which includes swimming or cycling in place of walking or jogging.
- Apply ice: You can hold a cloth-covered with packs of ice and place it over the area of pain for up to 15 minutes, about three or four times daily. Ice can help decrease pains and inflammation.
Plantar Fasciitis Stretches
Performing stretching exercises can help you reduce and relieve plantar fasciitis pain. If you think you have plantar fascia, perform these stretches every day. You can combine them with the R.I.C.E protocol (Rest, Ice, compression, and Elevation) for better results:
Plantar Fascia Massage
The Plantar Fascia Massage helps to target the source of pain directly and eliminates tension.
How to perform
- Sit on a chair. You can also stand with a foot resting on a small ball or a frozen water bottle. The use of a frozen water bottle is more advisable because the ice helps to reduce inflammation.
- Roll the ball or water bottle gently under your feet in a forward and backward manner.
- Roll the ball or water bottle back-and-forth about ten times for each foot
- Carry out this exercise once a day.
This is a simple exercise performed without weights. It primarily strengthens the calf muscles.
How to perform
- Stand at the edge of a bottom step and place the balls under your feet.
- Lower your heels gently below an edge while hanging your heels off it.
- Gently raise your feet on the balls.
- Perform this exercise one time a day.
Floor Sitting Ankle Inversion with Resistance
With an elastic exercise band, the floor sitting ankle inversion with resistance as a method of plantar fasciitis stretches. This exercise improves circulation to your legs, hips, and lower back. It also has a calming effect on your nervous system.
How to perform
- Sit upright on the floor and straighten out your legs. Ensure you avoid hip movement in the process.
- Put your left leg across the right. Place a resistance band around your upper foot and loop it with the lower foot while holding the end of the band in your hand.
- Move your upper foot slowly away from the lower. Rotate your ankle inwardly, then slowly and return to the initial position.
- Repeat this ten times and complete two sets for each foot.
- Do this exercise once a day.
Seated Toe Towel Scrunches
This exercise stretches the foot to improve balance, support your feet arches, and increase your foot strength.
How to perform
- Sit on a chair and ensure you rest a foot on a towel spreading your toes.
- Curl and scrunch your toes by drawing the towel towards yourself. Do this ten times, ensuring two sets for each foot.
Seated Plantar Fascia Stretch
The Seated Plantar Stretch helps to keep the foot muscles strong and healthy.
How to perform
- Sit on a chair, crossing one leg over the other knee to place your ankle atop the other.
- With a hand on your ankle and another on your toes, carefully tilt your toes backward. Do this until you feel a stretch at the edge of your foot.
- Maintain this state for 20 seconds and then repeat thrice for both feet.
- Carry out this exercise once a day.
Plantar Fasciitis vs. Heel Spur
Plantar Fascia is the ligament that joins the bottom of the foot to its front. It normally acts as an absorber taking in all shocks when pounding the feet through walking, jumping, running, etc.
Should the plantar fascia being overstretched or damaged, the ligament gets inflamed. Chronic inflammation is regarded as “plantar fasciitis.”
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Sharp or acute pain at the foot bottom (also called the “first-step” pain).
- Difficulty when stretching the foot.
- Pains after carrying out an activity.
A heel spur contains deposits of calcium on the heel bone. Although it is called “spur,” yet it is not protruding. Instead, it has a smooth growth that has developed for a long time.
Symptoms of a heel spur include:
- A tender point at the bottom of the heel makes walking barefoot difficult.
- Front heel swelling and inflammation.
- Heel ache for the entire day.
Although Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spur sound the same, the cause, symptoms, and treatment vary. The former is usually caused by damage to the ligament, which leads to inflammation and stiffness. In contrast, the latter is usually caused by bruising the heel bone, which then causes calcium deposits to form around the bone edge.
However, the two conditions can be treated in the same manner, which includes:
- Adequate rest
- Ice pack application
- Wearing proper shoes
- Calve stretches and exercises
- Wearing night splints
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment
If you have misalignment issues, which cause you pain in the heel, you should visit a physical therapist. Physical therapy is a kind of sports medicine that will assist you in getting back to the sport you like. Also, they will help you prevent such injury in the future.
An expert physiotherapist will help you analyze your manner of movement and check for anything unusual which may have put a strain on your heels. Your physical therapist will also design a special treatment program for you to hasten your recovery. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy may also be introduced to you. It will include exercises, physical activities, and other formal treatments that you can perform from the comfort of your home. Ice and heat therapy and exercises could also be recommended. These exercises would aid you in improving your ability to move, enhance your strength, use your muscles the right way, and finally return to your daily activities.
If you like to go the natural way, acupuncture will provide you the route to effective plantar fasciitis treatment solutions. Normally, acupuncture works when your sensory nerves are being stimulated with some needles that have been carefully placed. Although the process might sound painful, it makes your brain release endorphins as pain-relieving chemicals. This could also reduce inflammation and fast-track the healing process.
Given that you have tried many home remedies or the afore-listed plantar treatments and there is still no progress, your physiotherapist may recommend plantar fasciitis surgery for you. There are two types of surgery that can be taken:
- Endoscopic surgery
- Open surgery
However, before they do, such people must have had pains that:
- Persist for six months or more.
- Critically affects their life.
- Isn’t happening due to other medical condition.
Braces & Compression Sleeve
Using a supportive ankle brace on your leg may also aid in reducing the burden on the ligaments. However, before you use a brace, speak with your doctor or physical therapist if you require one and the right kind of ankle brace suitable for you. You should ask your doctor if you can use a splint that stretches your calf and the arch of your foot while you sleep at night. Wearing a compression sleeve will protect an injured ankle from further injuries.
Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis
Below are some lists of exercises that can be used to relieve Plantar Fasciitis pain.
Stretch your calves
- Stand at an arm’s length from the wall.
- Place right foot just behind the left.
- Gently bend left leg forward.
- Ensure right knee is kept straight and heel on the ground.
- Maintain the stretch for 15 – 30 secs.
- Repeat three times. Change leg position and repeat.
Grab a chair and stretch your plantar fascia
- Sit on a chair and roll your leg over a frozen bottle of water forward and backward.
- Do this for 60 seconds and change to the other foot.
- Cross one leg over the other
- Hold your toe and gently pull it towards you, maintaining it for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Do this thrice and change the foot doing the same for the second one.
Natural Remedies for Plantar Fasciitis
Treating plantar fasciitis at home will help you avoid medical treatment and surgery. Listed below are some of the natural remedies that could work for plantar fasciitis:
Keep a healthy weight: When you carry extra weight, you will exert more force on your plantar fascia.
Stretch your arches: When you carry out simple home exercises, you will be stretching your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon as well as calf muscles.
Apply Ice: Place a pack of ice on the area for up to 15 minutes, three to four times daily.
Ointment: Try out Joint Mud to gain mobility and relieve discomfort.
Plantar Fasciitis Prevention
This can be prevented through the following:
- Losing weight
- Choosing shoes with good support
- Doing low-impact exercise
Plantar Fasciitis is a connective tissue that should be carefully treated. Having any of the symptoms above? It would help if you tried to seek the help of a medical practitioner. You may also try the home treatment option, which includes ice application and stretching your arches. But consult a medical expert if you do not see any changes.