Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, which runs along the bottom of your foot connecting your heel bone to your toes and supporting your arch. If the tension on the fascia becomes too great, it can create small tears leading to irritation, inflammation and eventually, chronic pain.
It usually manifests gradually and is worst with the first few steps after awakening, although it also can be triggered by long periods of standing or getting up from a seated position. Contributing factors can include certain types of exercise, like running, faulty foot mechanics, obesity, occupations that keep you on your feet and improper footwear.
There are things you can do to help, including:
- Rest as often as you can especially if the pain is severe.
- Apply a cloth-covered ice pack to the area for at least 10 minutes, 3-4 times per day or after activity. You can also try ice massage by rolling a frozen water-filled paper cup over the area for 5-7 minutes at a time.
- Adopt low or no-impact forms of exercise such as swimming or bicycling instead of walking or jogging, at least temporarily.
- Stretch your arches, achilles tendon and calf muscles regularly. (If you’re not sure how to do this, please ask!)
- Try some self-massage to break up adhesions either with your hands or rolling your arches on a tennis or golf ball.