What Is The Plantar Fascia?
The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue that originates from the bottom surface of your heel bone (the calcaneus) and from here the plantar fascia extends along the sole of the foot towards the toes. It serves to function as a passive limitation to the over flattening of the arch of your foot and plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia which causes heel pain.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Although historically called plantar fasciitis the term plantar fasciosis is generally considered more accurate. Plantar fasciitis is a a foot condition characterized by heel pain and pain in your plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is strong and dense connective tissue structure on the sole of your foot and it was believed that plantar fascia inflammation was the principle underlying cause of this sort of heel pain. However plantar fasciosis is more accurate because this cause of heel pain typically involves degeneration, microtears and cell death at the plantar fascia, generally not inflammation.
What Is The Cause Of Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a condition which often seems to come out of nowhere, it is often associated with running sports particularly in the aging athlete (over the age of 40). The trigger of such heel pain is usually exacerbated via stretching forces on the plantar fascia. When the plantar fascia is repeatedly overstretched during activity however could also be caused from compression where either traumatically or repetitively the individual lands on an object subsequently bruising the plantar fascia starting a process of inflammation and degeneration.
What Does Plantar Fasciitis Feel Like?
Typically the first sign of plantar fasciitis is noticing heel pain or pain in the arch of your foot first thing in the morning or after a period or rest with the pain felt on weight bearing after this period of non weight bearing.
This heel pain is felt worse with the first few steps and dissipates as it “warms up”. As with most overuse type injuries the heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis will often deteriorate in the following pattern if it is not dealt with:
- Firstly the individual experiences heel pain following exercise.
- Then as it worsens heel pain will be felt at the start of exercise which eases with exercise as it “warms up” only then to be felt again after exercise.
- The next stage of plantar fasciitis and overuse injuries is that the pain will be present at the start, during and after exercise
- Before progressing to the point where heel pain is felt all the time.
What Are The Risk Factors For Plantar Fasciitis?
There are a number of reasons someone may be more prone to getting heel pain from plantar fasciitis, some of them include:
- Age: With ageing the arch of your foot may begin to sag putting extra stress on your plantar fascia and the cushioning pad of fat under your heel thins and this can put more compressive pressure directly on the plantar fascia origin.
- Activity Choices: Exercise that places excessive stress, stretching load on the plantar fascia such as running and high impact aerobic classes are risk factors for developing heel pain. As well as this jobs that require long periods of time standing or walking on hard surfaces such as factory workers also pose a risk.
- Obesity: Carrying extra weight increases the stress and strain on your plantar fascia.
- Foot Arch Type And Footwear: Wearing shoes with poor support or the wrong support for your arch type can stress the plantar fascia. The wrong shoe can put stretch and strain the plantar fascia meaning it has to absorb the additional loading forces.
- Pregnancy: Laxity of ligaments as well as weight gain and swelling during pregnancy can cause stress to the plantar fascia.
- Weak Muscles: Weakness of the muscles that support and help control the foot arch can cause increased stress to go on the plantar fascia as greater demand to contribute to helping maintain your foot arch is placed on the plantar fascia when muscles aren’t doing their job.
Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance regarding Plantar Fasciitis A Common Cause Of Heel Pain should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, general practitioner, sports medicine specialist or physiotherapist.