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Preventing and Treating Plantar Fasciitis

When it comes to heel pain, Plantar Fasciitis is frequently the cause. This condition is rather common among the middle-aged, however, younger people who remain on their feet for long periods of time are also prone to developing this condition (soldiers and athletes, etc.). Plantar Fasciitis can affect just one foot or both of the feet. Individuals who have this condition experience stabbing pain in their feet upon rising with some relief throughout the day.

What is the Plantar Fascia?

The flat, thick ligament that extends from the base of the heel to the toes is referred to as the plantar fascia. This ligament provides support for the arch of the foot, acting like a shock-absorbing bowstring. If the plantar fascia becomes strained, small tears may occur in the fascia. If repetitive tearing and stretching occurs, the fascia swells and becomes weak, this condition is referred to as Plantar Fasciitis.

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

The pain associated with Plantar Fasciitis is at its worst upon waking and taking the first steps of the day; however, with movement, this pain usually decreases. Nevertheless, rising from a long-lasting sitting position may cause the pain to return. In addition, you may experience the most pain while climbing stairs or after you stand for an extended period of time.

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is an injury commonly associated with running. In general, Plantar Fasciitis occurs when the feet are not able to deal with the continued pounding they experience as an individual is running. Other issues that can lead to Plantar Fasciitis include excess weight, over training, and/or wearing footwear that does not provide adequate support. The structure of an individual’s foot plays a role in the development of Plantar Fasciitis as well.

Repeated Strain of the Plantar Fascia Ligament

A repeated strain of the plantar fascia ligament can create tiny tears. These tears lead to inflammation and pain.

However, repeated strains are more likely to occur if:

  • You have flat feet or high arches
  • Your feet roll inward when you walk
  • Your shoes are shabby or they do not fit properly
  • You are overweight
  • You stand, run or walk for long periods, especially if you perform these activities on hard surfaces
  • Your calf muscles or Achilles tendons are tight

The Importance of Seeking Treatment

If you believe that you have Plantar Fasciitis, seeking treatment is recommended: Otherwise, the way you walk in an attempt to minimize the pain associated with this condition could lead to knee, hip, foot and/or back problems.

Treating Plantar Fasciitis

The majority of people who have Plantar Fasciitis are able to recover with the use of conservative treatments like icing, resting and stretching. However, recovery can take several months.

  • You can use a golf ball or a frozen water bottle to stretch your foot several times throughout the day. The frozen water bottle will help reduce the inflammation; however, never place ice directly on any part of your body. You need to have some type of barrier (a sock, towel, etc.) in between your body and the ice.
  • Night splints are designed to stretch the arch of the foot and the calf as you sleep. The splint holds the Achilles tendon and the plantar fascia in a lengthened position; thus, facilitating a stretch.
  • A physical therapist can provide you with a variety of exercises that are designed to stretch the Achilles tendon and the plantar fascia as well as to strengthen the lower legs, which stabilizes your heel and your ankle. In addition, your therapist may teach you how to apply athletic tape and support the bottom of your foot.


 Preventing Plantar Fasciitis

Avoiding this injury is possible. Remember to stretch your calf muscle, Achilles tendon and plantar fascia prior to beginning any type of exercise routine or running.

5 Injury Prevention Techniques for Runners

  1. Keep Your Core Strong Preventing injuries in almost any activity requires a strong, stable core.
  2. Maintain Flexibility Maintaining flexibility in the heel cord and calves is extremely important, especially for mid to forefoot runners.
  3. Purchase a Pair of Great Running Shoes Using old, improperly designed running shoes can cause pain in the feet, legs, knees and hips as well as aid in the development of Plantar Fasciitis. You should purchase properly fitting running shoes. Your shoes should be changed out every 500 miles.
  4. Pace Yourself Pushing too hard and too fast can lead to running injuries. Pacing yourself is important. You should build your running miles up no more than 10 percent every week. Adding sprints here and there can assist you in safely building up your endurance.
  5. Drink Plenty of Water Staying hydrated helps to lubricate the joints and regulate the body temperature. Therefore, if you are not hydrated properly, your body will not be able to achieve peak performance. According to the American Council on Exercise, you should drink at least 17 ounces of water every couple of hours before you begin your exercise routine and another 8 ounces approximately 30 minutes before you start warming up. Then, as you exercise, drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes and 8 ounces approximately 30 minutes after you complete your workout.

Use these tips to prevent Plantar Fasciitis so that you can continue participating in the activities you love.

Dr. Erik Nilssen

About the author:
Dr. Erik Nilssen

Dr. Erik Nilssen is the founder and guiding force behind the Nilssen Ankle and Foot Center, in Pensacola Florida. Dr. Nilssen graduated cum laude from Auburn University in 1996. He completed USF School of Medicine in 2002 then went on to achieve his orthopedic residency at McGill University in 2007. He is the only person to have completed fellowships in both Sports Medicine and Foot & Ankle at the American Sports Medicine Institute under the Direction of Dr. James R. Andrews. Visit to learn more.