If you have been experiencing that unbearable, stabbing pain in your heel that is at its worst when you first step out of bed in the morning, you may be one of the many individuals who suffer from Plantar Fasciitis. There are many ways to treat this, but first, let’s look at what’s actually causing it.
Your plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone (calcaneus) to your toes. Its purpose is also to be a shock absorber, supporting the arch in your foot. When this band of tissue becomes inflamed or irritated, this is called plantar fasciitis and can be very painful. If left untreated, the complications will only be worsened.
The exact cause of plantar fasciitis may not be clear but most commonly these tiny tears and inflammation are brought upon by a few factors. Some of these include:
- Age (individuals over the age of 40 are at higher risk)
- Stressful exercises such as running long distances, or high impact exercises
- Wearing shoes that do not offer proper arch support
- Extended amounts of time on your feet
A physician should always diagnose you and may recommend physical therapy or an anti-inflammatory, but in most cases, this can be resolved with a consistent regimented stretching routing for your calves, Achilles Tendon, and arch in your foot.
In some cases, you may want to consider wearing night splints, which will keep your foot flexed, essentially elongating your calf and Achilles while you sleep, or supportive orthotic inserts during the day.
However, ignoring this and altering your gait to get through the pain will only lead to bigger problems down the road. In most cases, you’ll want to stretch, ice, rest, and repeat!
-Sarah C., Assistant Fitness Director at Dedham Health & Athletic Complex