Feet getting sore after a long day of standing? Or waking up in the morning with a sharp pain under the heel or the arch of the foot? This could be a case of Plantar fasciitis.
The Planta Fascia (PF) is a thick connective tissue that runs under the foot. Picture a triangle on the underside of your foot. Starting directly under your heel and extending to the base of all five toes or the forefoot. Basically the 'arch'. If this arch is put under too much stress it gets inflammed, causing pain and discomfort. Aka. Plantar Fasciitis.
Now there are many reasons the 'arch' of the foot is put under stress. If you have a high arch the PF is stretched taught placing stress on the arch. If you have a very low arch or 'flat' foot the PF is again overly stretched placing stress on the arch. If you are a heavy pronater, meaning your ankle rolls inwards as your body weight moves over the foot during gait, the PF will be overly streched, placing stress on the arch. If your shoes are too hard or stiff they may not provide adequate cushioning and will place stress on the arch. If your shoes are too soft they may not provide adequate support, placing stress on the arch. Simply put, lots of stuff places stress on the arch but before you lose hope there are solutions.
The first thing to inspect is your foot. What type of arch do you have? A high arched foot or a low arched foot can both be supported by an orthotic or insole. The insole, placed inside your shoe will provide your foot with adequate support, preventing the PF from getting overly stretched and providing a bit more cushioning and shock absorption for your foot.
Have a look at your musculature too. Tight calf muscles and achilles tendons could also be to blame. A tight calf will prevent an adequate heel strike resulting in you 'slapping' your foot down, causing more force or shock to travel up the body. Think of it this way; if I was to throw an egg at you. You wouldn't be able to catch it with 'hard', unmoving hands or the egg would break. You would have to soften the impact of the egg by dropping your hands and allowing a bit of momentum to 'cushion' the catch. Our foot is designed in the same way. Essentially it is a 'rocker'.If a tight calf muscle prevents you from lifting up your toes and getting an adequate heel strike, you are then unable to 'cushion' your body weight as you go from heel strike to foot flat in what should be a 'rocking' motion. This force or stress then has to be dealt with by the body and guess what is first up at ground level? Yip, the heel and the PF. Now the calcaneus bone (heel) is one of the spongest in the body, so in essence it is specifically designed for this intitial impact. However the PF can only do so much stretching to accommodate the stress placed upon it. Eventually it will simply get overworked, resulting in Plantar Fasciitis, shin pain, knee pain, pretty much any injury where lack of shock absorption or cushioning is a major factor.
Things to do when you suspect Plantar Fasciitis:
• Look at your arch height. A high arch or low arched foot can get added support from an orthotic/insole.
• Check your calf muscles. Too tight? Get a sports massage, use a foam roller or stretch them out. 1
• Inspect your shoes. Too hard? Specific insoles can provide extra cushioning. Too soft? Again an orthotic can provide that much needed support.
• To relieve pain and discomfort of Plantar Fasciitis use a small ball to massage the underside (arch) of the foot. You could also try a water bottle placed in the freezer then used to massage the arch.
• Strengthen lower leg muscles which stabilize your ankle and heel