Plantar Fascia is the name given to the thick band of tissue found on the sole of your foot. The ligament connects the hell bone to the bones in your toes, facilitating movement in your foot and helping you walk. The plantar fascia supports the arch of your foot whilst bearing the brunt of the impact from physical activity.
The Plantar Fascia can become inflamed. This will be due to a plantar fascia tear or micro-tear which can happen suddenly or accumulate gradually like a stress-fracture or sprain. The condition is called plantar fasciitis and is most common amongst very active people and those who run or take part in high-impact sports (for the feet, i.e. athletic jumping).
Micro-tears in the plantar fascia is the condition called plantar fasciitis. Whereas a full tear in the plantar fascia is more severe and will be caused by a specific injury. It will be a more acute, piercing pain and will make itself known immediately. A plantar fascia tear can require surgery, but this is rare.
If you’ve got Plantar Fasciitis, you’ll feel a sharp pain on the underside of your heel, usually when you walk or move after sitting or resting for a long period of time. Fortunately, there are several easy and affordable treatment options available for this common condition.
Pain in the plantar fascia occurs because the tendon is stretched. The elasticity of the plantar fascia tendon is not at optimal elasticity after excessive impact to the area or after long periods of inactivity such as sleep. This means the tendon has to over-work and over-stretch when it is not ready and can cause sharp, stabbing and even a dull ache to the heel, extending towards the arch of the foot.
Many people report the pain of plantar fascia differently and pain in the ball of the foot and heel pain should all be treated accordingly.
Simple pain relief medication and over the counter anti inflammatories will help combat a flare up or irritation to the area. For more information, visit our guide to plantar fasciitis.
Those who work on their feet or regularly spend long hours on their feet are more likely to experience pain in the plantar fascia. Age can play a factor and the condition is more common among the elderly as your muscles simply wear over time. Additionally, being over weight can impact your foot health massively. This is because your feet support the rest of your body weight and act as shock absorbs for most activities; imposing too much pressure and impact can cause long-term damage and cause a myriad of foot concerns and common problems.
Preventing Pain in the Plantar Fascia
To prevent damage to your muscles when exercising, you’ll need to make sure that you are stretching properly and wearing shoes with an appropriate amount of support for your ankles and heels.
Conditioning exercises and stretches are ideal for strengthening the plantar fascia. These are designed to strengthen the tendon, improving the effected muscles in the foot, heel, ankle and calf. Exercises will help to stabilise the area and reduce the risk of re-injury.
Plantar Fascia Insoles
Once you’ve established that you’ve got Plantar Fasciitis, you’ll need to take steps to reduce the pain and prevent further damage to your Plantar Fascia. One of the most highly recommended options for treating a painful Plantar Fascia is an orthotic insole. This will correct your posture, by re-aligning the foot, ankle and lower leg muscles. Many people with pain in their Plantar Fascia are simply suffering from fallen arches, where the arch of the foot flattens when you walk, which can easily be corrected by wearing the right insoles.
There are a variety of options available for orthotic treatment. You can have a custom-made insole by visiting your GP, or podiatrist, or you can simply purchase standard orthotics for arch correction. Custom made devices are usually more expensive and are often unnecessary, as several studies have found that Plantar Fascia pain can be relieved just as effectively with a standard orthotic. Failing to address a fallen arch can cause many problems later in life, including knee and hip problems due to misalignment and strain on the muscles.
Plantar fascia compression socks are another low-cost and effective solution for the condition. Compression socks support the arches of the foot, reducing swelling, decreasing soreness and improving the circulation which will improve the elasticity and mobility of the plantar fascia tendon.
These are a non-intrusive method for combatting pain in the plantar fascia as they can be worn through the night, effectively targeting the most noticeable bout of pain which is when you first get up and step out of bed in the mornings.
For more information on how to care for your plantar fascia, get in touch with the team at foot active. We will be able to give you advice before you buy and provide preventative suggestions from real foot experts.
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