You get out of bed and take your first steps and OUCH! You have a sharp pain in your heel. Same thing happens after longer periods of sitting. You “walk it off” and the pain subsides. Welcome to plantar fasciitis (aka “jogger’s heel”).
What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis the most common cause of heel pain. One in ten of us have plantar fasciitis some time in our lifetimes. The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue that originates from the medial tubercle and anterior aspect of the heel bone. From there, the fascia extends along the sole of the foot before inserting at the base of the toes, and supports the arch of the foot.
What causes Plantar fasciitis?
The biggest risk factor for plantar fasciitis is excessive running or standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time. Highly arched feet are also more susceptible, as are those with flat feet. For those who have leg length inequality, you’re also a likely candidate. Overweight individuals comprise almost 70% of “non-athletic” individuals who present with plantar fasciitis. The wrong shoes, and achilles tendon tightness can also be a contributor. If your pain is chronic (long lasting), you should seek a diagnosis from a qualified health care provider.
What do I do now?
Luckily, most plantar fasciitis cases heal themselves, but they heal much faster with conservative treatment. Most physicians and physical therapists recommend RICE, calf-strengthing exercise, weight reduction, and targeted massage therapy, including stretches and focused work on plantar surfaces and posterior calf muscles. Your therapist will show you some regular self-stretching of the gastrocs and soles muscles that can help you manage future plantar fascia pain as well. This not a job for your corner foot massage place, though, seek out an experienced professional.
You should also take a good look at what habits you have that might cause plantar fasciitis. Start running on grass or rubber track. Change your shoes. If you’re overweight, lose some weight, even a few pounds makes a difference in the load on your ankles, calves and feet. If you have issues with your arches, try an orthotic shoe insert (hello drugstore!). Including regular massage can help too when the massage therapist is experienced in sports or therapeutic massage.