Definition: The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs from the heel to the toes. Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of this fascia, and the pain is most commonly felt where the arch meets the heel.
Causes: This is a common injury in runners, and is usually a result of running too much too soon. Worn out running shoes, running downhill or on hard surfaces all contribute. Foot arch problems (flat feet or rigid high arches), obesity or sudden weight gain, and tightness of the calf muscles are also factors.
Signs and Symptoms: The pain is usually worse when first getting out of bed, after standing or sitting for a while, or after intense activity. There will be pain at the heel, with some possible swelling if severe.
Treatment: This condition will not improve, and will become progressively worse unless the causative activity is stopped. Because of the low blood flow to the plantar fascia, healing is a slow process. It is important to stop the activity as soon as symptoms appear. Pressing the heel into ice, especially in the first few days, is helpful to bring down any inflammation or swelling. Use ice 10-15 min, several times per day. Stop the activity that caused the injury, wear shoes with good arch support, preferably shoes that lace up, to hold the foot down in the shoe. Never walk bare foot in the house, and a night splint should be used to speed up recovery. Plantar fasciitis can be caused or worsened with tight calf muscles. A stretching program with deep tissue massage therapy is indicated. For more information or for a free evaluation call 604-524-4446.