Chronic heel pain can be a debilitating condition that interrupts your life and stops you from doing what you love the most. One of the leading causes of heel pain is plantar fasciitis, a condition that we treat frequently at Midwest Podiatry Centers.
The causes of plantar fasciitis are extensive, and most people will find that their heel pain comes from their lifestyle choices or factors. With modifications and personalized treatment, we can help you overcome heel pain, so you can resume doing what you love.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a condition that causes persistent heel pain from inflammation or aggravation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs on the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. Every time you take a step, the tension increases on your plantar fascia. As you push off on the ball of your foot, your plantar fascia is impacted by the additional tension or stress.
Over time, the plantar fascia can lose its elasticity and subsequently become inflamed or irritated with walking, exercising, or doing other routine activities. When it becomes inflamed or even torn, it can lead to heel pain that ranges from mild to severe.
This could be chronic or acute in nature. Repetitive use is commonly linked to plantar fasciitis, whether you are repeatedly inflicting force onto the foot or standing for long periods. Likewise, sudden trauma to the foot can also damage the plantar fascia and cause ongoing pain.
Common Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
High Arched Feet
The shape and structure of your feet can also be a precursor to developing plantar fasciitis. Some people are born with higher arches in their feet, which places greater strain on the plantar fascia whenever they engage in physical activity. The resulting heel pain can be ongoing for them as their natural foot structure only serves to further inflame or agitate their condition.
Treatment for these patients can include custom orthotics that naturally support the shape of their feet, relieving pressure from the plantar fascia as they walk.
Another genetic condition that can cause heel pain is flat feet. People with flat feet have excessive pronation (rolling the foot inward), which strains their plantar fascia. Once again, custom orthotics can help give your feet the support and extra comfort they need.
Footwear is one of the leading causes of plantar fasciitis. High heels, flats, and shoes with poor padding can all strain your plantar fascia and throw off your foot mechanics. That is why it is so important that your shoes fit properly. There should be ample room in the toe box or front of the shoe. One way to determine if your shoes have enough is by wiggling your toes.
If you cannot wiggle your toes easily, you may need to size up. You also should not wear shoes that are too big and slip when you walk. Shoes that slip will cause uneven weight distribution on your feet. This can cause you to inadvertently put undue tension on your plantar fascia.
We highly advise our patients to wear durable, supportive shoes that have ample cushioning in all the right places.
Furthermore, shoes should be well-designed for the natural form of the foot. As mentioned above, avoid trying to wear shoes that have toe boxes that are small or too flat. Both can alter your foot’s position when you stand or walk.
Being overweight not only strains your respiratory and cardiovascular systems, but also places greater strain on your body’s muscles, joints, and tendons. Your plantar fascia is no exception. If you have a body mass index (BMI) over 30, you have a greater risk of developing chronic plantar heel pain (CPHP). It is important to note that even if you are not currently experiencing symptoms of plantar fasciitis, it does not mean there is not damage being done.
In addition to alleviating pain through supportive treatments, losing weight through a healthy diet and exercise could help improve or even eliminate your plantar fasciitis. If you do have a high BMI and are ready to start a new exercise routine, be sure to check in with your family physician prior to getting started. Here at Midwest Podiatry Centers, we are also happy to provide advice we can to help you reach your weight loss goals.
You are an Athlete
Athletes engage in repetitive, high-impact activities that place a lot of force on their feet. In turn, they can tear their plantar fascia much more easily than someone who is a non-athlete. Rigorous, ongoing exercise can also lead to inflammation, which further intensifies your heel pain.
Wearing the right shoes and taking adequate rest days are both important steps to avoid plantar fasciitis as an athlete or if you are only an exercise enthusiast.
Often Working or Exercising on a Hard Surface
Although your feet are designed to absorb shock from movement, they can become inflamed with too much pressure. Workers who stand throughout the day, or athletes that frequently run or play sports on concrete, tend to have more heel pain.
Increased foot support with better shoes and rest days are important to prevent chronic plantar heel pain.
Exercising Without Stretching Your Calves
Tight calves affect your ankle’s range of motion. This, in turn, places more strain on your plantar fascia as you work out. The strain between your calf and the heel bone can ultimately lead to inflammation that causes ongoing pain.
It is important to always adequately warm up your body with stretches before engaging in any exercise routine. Simple calf stretches that involve flexing your foot with toes pointed towards the ceiling can effectively loosen tight calf muscles.
Make an Appointment for Treatment Today
Plantar fasciitis is one of our specialties at Midwest Podiatry Centers! Even though there are many ways to get plantar fasciitis, we have many different treatment options available to you and your loved ones.