Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs from the heel bone to the toes. It acts as a shock absorber and is found at the bottom of the foot. When this structure becomes inflamed, many people report feeling a sharp, stabbing pain on the bottom of the foot. The pain is usually worse in the morning when taking the first few steps after getting out of bed, or after long periods of sitting/inactivity. Pain can also get worse after exercising.
Plantar fasciitis can happen due to microtears of the plantar fascia from stress or tension. Risk factors of this happening include:
- Being between the ages of 40 and 60
- Participating in exercises like long-distance running, dancing, and aerobic activities
- Having flat feet, a high arch, or an abnormal gait (walking pattern)
- Being obese
- Long periods of standing for job function or standing on hard surfaces for long periods. Certain jobs like factory workers, teachers, and cashiers are more at risk.
If you feel like you may have this condition, it is important to see your doctor. During the visit, the physician will perform a physical exam. Typically, no imaging tests are needed to diagnose this condition.
Treatment of this condition usually involves physiotherapy and night splinting to keep the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon in optimal position while you sleep. The night splint is usually worn for several weeks. Orthopedic inserts inside shoes are also recommended as a treatment for this condition. Less common treatment options include steroid injections, shock wave therapy, ultrasonic tissue repair, and surgery in severe cases.
Prevention of plantar fasciitis is possible. Here are some ways you can manage and prevent plantar fasciitis:
- Maintain a healthy weight. This will reduce the load on your feet.
- Wear supportive shoes. This would mean that the shoes have low to moderate heels, thick soles, good arch support, and extra cushioning.
- You should change your tennis shoes quickly when they become worn out. Do not hold on to them and try to get extra wear out of them.
- Choose low-impact sports like swimming, cycling, and Pilates.
- Use ice to relieve pain. A great hack is to roll a frozen water bottle under your foot for 15 minutes.
- Lastly, make sure to stretch your arches. This will keep them flexible and less prone to injury.
It’s essential to take care of your body to reduce your chances of getting this condition. Avoid the pain that could hamper you from enjoying the activities you love and the best life has to offer.
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