What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that connects the heel to the toes. During plantar fasciitis, this tissue becomes inflamed, causing pain on the bottom of the heel and foot. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of foot/heel pain. A common symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain that is worse first thing in the morning and then gets better the more you move. Pain can also increase with prolonged standing, walking or other activities.
Plantar fasciitis is often caused by overuse, leading to inflammation and irritation of the plantar fascia. Some risk factors include: age (most common between 40-60 years), some forms of exercise (long-distance running, dancing, etc.), foot mechanics (an arch that is too high or too low), obesity, or a job that involves standing all day.
Exercises for pain relief
- Ball roll outs – take a lacrosse ball, tennis ball or golf ball and roll it on the bottom of your foot for 3-5 minutes
- Icing – freeze a water bottle (make sure it is not all the way full), and roll out the bottom of your foot for 5-10 minutes
- Calf stretch – drop your heel off a step until you feel a strong, but comfortable stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
- Single leg stance – practice balancing on one leg, try holding for 30 seconds repeating twice. This helps to strengthen the muscles of your foot/ankle.
- Eccentric Calf Raises – raise up onto your toes, shift all your weight onto one leg, slowly lower back down. Complete 10 times and do 2 sets (if not causing increases in pain levels)
- Ankle 4-way – use an ankle band to strengthen the muscles that help the ankle move in all 4 directions
If you are having significant pain levels, pain to the touch of your ankle bones, or having difficulty walking more than 4 steps, it may be a good idea to contact a healthcare provider for an x-ray to rule out an ankle fracture.