No, Plantar Fasciitis isn’t some sort of fascist plant that is set out to destroy all of the plants in the world. This is only the fancy-schmansy scientific name. But many know it by one of its more familiar names, such as Jogger’s Heel, or just Heel Pain. Its medical name comes from the fact that it’s a very common inflammatory condition of the plantar fascia – a strong fibrous tissue that extends from the heel bone to the toes. The function of this tissue is to provide a supportive structure for the arch of the foot as well as a shock absorber for the foot. The pain resulting from the condition Plantar Fasciitis varies from a mild irritation to near incapacitation.
Though Plantar Fasciitis can affect anyone, those who are very active, or who engage in a lot of walking or running, are particularly susceptible to the condition. So if you’re a famous athlete or on the run from her majesty’s constabulary, then I’m afraid you’re more prone to this ailment. This is because such activities can cause excessive stretching of the plantar fascia, which – in turn – can cause micro tears in the tissue, which are painful. However, walking and running are not the only cause – flat feet, over-pronation, obesity and prolonged standing can also trigger the condition. Flat-soled footwear with little or no arch support or cushioning may also be a contributing factor.
Like the troubling presence of the countless birds sitting atop your car, there isn’t always a straightforward or quick fix to Plantar Fasciitis. Normally, a multi faceted approach is advised, which might include treatments such as orthotic prescription, weight management (in obese patients), exercise, hydrotherapy and manual therapy. Those with the condition often have a tight Achilles tendon, which in turn causes the plantar fascia to tighten up (especially during the night, which is why pain is felt first thing in the morning), so gentle exercise can play an important part in curing the condition, as it stretches the Achilles tendon and the plantar fascia. But rest is very important, too, as this will give the tissue time to heal. Other treatments include:
- Rolling a cold water bottle under the arch of your foot for five minutes – this can give temporary pain relief.
- If the pain is too much, an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen may help.
- Your GP may recommend a steroid injection, which will help to reduce the inflammation.
- Wearing shoes with good arch support.
- Orthotics (shoe inserts)
- In very persistent cases, surgical procedures may be required.
Prevention is key to not only eradicating pests, but also plantar fasciitis. If you avoid what you dislike the most, it’s almost as if they don’t exist! You can do a number of things to help prevent plantar fasciitis.
- If you’re overweight, consider reducing your body mass to put less stress on the feet.
- Wear shoes that offer good support to the arch.
- Change worn out shoes.
- Before running (or similar activities) make sure you do a warm-up in the form of stretching exercises for the Achilles, calves and plantar fascia.
- Avoid walking on hard surfaces barefoot.
Basically, corn and calluses are the formation of hard and thickened areas of skin at places of excess pressure and friction, and are one of the body’s protection mechanisms. There are many examples in everyday life of this process in action – the thickened skin on the palms of weightlifters, for example, or on the balls of the feet of women who favour tap-dancing. But while this protection mechanism often does just what it says on the tin – protect the body – it can also become problematic. If the skin becomes too thick and hard, it can cause pain when walking or standing, or in any situation where excess pressure is applied.