Heel pain? Bottom of your foot pain? Pain in arch of foot when walking? You might have plantar fascitis! Plantar fascitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia (as the name suggests). The plantar fascia is the thick tissue that connects the toes and middle of the foot to the heel and supports the arch of your foot. Inflammation occurs when the tissue is overstretched or overused. People more at risk for plantar fascitis are those who:
  • Have foot arch problems (both flat feet and high arches)
  • Run long distances, downhill or on uneven surfaces
  • Are obese or gain weight suddenly
  • Have a tight Achilles tendon (the tendon connecting the calf muscles to the heel)
  • Wear shoes with poor arch support or soft soles
  • Change activities

If you’ve ever had plantar fascitis, you know that it is PAINFUL. It can make simple walking very difficult. The most common symptom associated with plantar fascitis is pain and stiffness in the bottom of the heel (dull or sharp pain). Pain is worse:

  • In the morning when you take your first steps
  • After standing or sitting for awhile
  • When climbing stairs
  • After intense activity
Since plantar fascitis is related to overuse, your first line of treatment is to rest. Easier said than done, especially for the active person who isn’t used to resting, but this is the first thing you can do to help your pain. Additionally, you can try:
  • Any anti-inflammatory method to reduce inflammation (i.e. ibuprofen, tart cherry juice, vitamin C, acupuncture, peppermint essential oil, etc.)
  • Heel and foot stretching exercises
  • Night splints to wear while sleeping to stretch the foot and achilles tendon
  • Resting as much as possible for at least a week (sometimes longer)
  • Wearing shoes with good support and cushions
  • Apply ice to the painful area. Do this at least twice a day for 10 – 15 minutes, more often in the first couple of days.
  • Wearing a boot cast, which looks like a ski boot, for 3 – 6 weeks.
  • Custom-made shoe inserts (orthotics)
  • Steroid shots or injections into the heel

What works for one person, does not work for all. You have to experiment and figure out what works for you. The biggest thing is to reduce inflammation and once healed, keep your fascia flexible and wear supportive shoes. This does not include really cute summer shoes, heels, or shoes like Crocs. There are several companies that offer shoes with great support. I recently found a sandal company, Vionics! Go ice your foot, rest it, have an Acupuncturist poke needles into it, buy supportive shoes, and heal your heel pain!

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