Image via Wikipedia
Plantar fasciitis is a chronic condition that causes pain on the underside of the foot and heel. When the plantar fascia (a thick band of tissue that runs from the bony prominence of the heel to the metatarsal bones of the forefoot) becomes tight from too much pressure, tension increases and tiny rips form in the tissue.
The more tension and tearing that occur in the plantar fascia, the more inflammation and irritation of the area occur.
The main symptom experienced is pain in the heel, which is generally worse in the morning and improves as the day goes on. It can often feel like you have a stone in your shoe!
It commonly occurs in runners, dancers and other high impact athletes, who often present with one or many of the following; tight calves, a shortened Achilles tendon, excessive pronation, weight gain.
Initial treatment is to rest from the aggravating activity. The problem for many is that by the time their run or sport starts, their pain has reduced or even disappeared - that is, until the next morning! This does not mean total rest, simply change the activity to something less high impact, cycling with pedal under the heal, for example.
As this condition is largely caused by tightness in the calves and plantar fascia, often accompanied by ankle immobility, it is important to release these areas to encourage healing. One way to stretch the fascia is seen in the clip below.
Calf stretches are pretty common, but for those not familiar, check the clips below.
Many find the insertion of a heel raise/cup into their shoe or trainer useful - these can be found at most local sports shops or online. If unsure what to get, feel free to email me.
If none of these tips help alleviate symptoms it is probably time to employ an injury specialist for some massage therapy and electrotherapy modalities.
If excessive pronation does exist, it may also be necessary to see a podiatrist for custom made orthotics to support the foot, and reduce the repetitive over stretching of the calf and fascia. (if you are not sure if you over pronate - look for signs of hard skin over the inside edge of the foot and toe and whether you have an arch in your foot when standing).
The key, as with all injuries, is to look at the cause not the symptom, otherwise all your efforts in training and treatment could be in vein.