When you step out of bed in the morning, is there a pulling-type pain and tightness in the arch of your foot near your heel? Maybe this pain also appears after you’ve been sitting for a while and decide to get up and walk. Chances are, what you’re suffering from is a condition called plantar fasciitis. It’s not as scary as it sounds, and, in most cases, you can treat it at home without much medical intervention. Here’s a closer look.
What is plantar fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue that runs along the base of the arch in your foot. Plantar fasciitis is just an inflammation of this tissue. The pulling you feel results from the difficulty the fascia has moving over the other tissue in your foot because of the inflammation. The arch of your foot is designed to bend as you walk, but, with your plantar fascia swollen and stiff, this bending causes pain.
The condition is usually worse in the morning since you have not moved your foot all night, and it often gets better once you move around and loosen up this tissue.
What causes this condition?
It’s very common in runners and walkers, as these movements put a lot of strain on the plantar fascia. Wearing shoes with little or no arch support for these activities make plantar fasciitis more likely. You’ll also be more prone to this condition if you walk or run on your toes, as this forces your arch to bend and stretch more, possibly overworking the plantar fascia tissues. Runners often experience plantar fasciitis when they increase their training volume too quickly.
How can you treat plantar fasciitis?
First, identify the most likely cause of your plantar fasciitis and take action to change it.
- If you recently increased your running volume, back off on your training, and then add miles back slowly once your symptoms are gone.
- Make sure the shoes you’re wearing support your arches. Buy new ones if they don’t.
- Pay attention to make sure you’re landing on your midfoot or heel when you run or walk.
Once you make some or all of the changes above (depending on your circumstances), you can ease the pain in the short-term by:
- Massaging the area by using your thumb or forefinger in circular motions.
- Applying ice to reduce swelling.
- Bending and flexing your arch a few times before you get out of bed.
- Avoiding unnecessary walking and running until your symptoms are gone.
If your plantar fasciitis is not gone within a week or two, contact a podiatrist and check out http://www.yourfootdocs.com. Some cases are stubborn. You may need cortisone injections or physical therapy to beat this discomfort.