A Pain in the Heel - Plantar Fasciitis
You wake up in the morning and roll out of bed. You place your feet down on the floor and as you begin to walk you feel a stabbing pain in your heel. As you keep moving, the pain may begin to subside a little, but you still have an uncomfortable feeling in the heel of your foot and it may even get worse again if you find yourself on your feet for prolonged periods at a time throughout the day. What is this heel pain? It is most likely Plantar Fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common complaints of pain in the heel. It is usually caused when the plantar fascia (the thick band of tissue that runs from your heel to the toes on the underside of your foot – making up the arch) is inflamed. Inflammation is usually caused from an overuse injury, where small tears to the fascia from over stretching, and prolonged and frequent repetitive use of the arch of the foot. Most often anyone who does a lot of running, dancing, or jumping may experience this heel pain, as well as those who must stand on hard surfaces during most of their work day.
If you have heel pain, especially more noticeable when you first wake up or after you have been standing on hard surfaces for prolonged time, check with your doctor to get an official diagnosis to find out if it is Plantar Fasciitis. From there the doctor can recommend treatment which may include some over the counter pain medication, physical therapy, and in severe and chronic cases, surgery may be suggested. For the less severe cases, here are some simple self-care tips that you can do on your own to help relieve your pain from Plantar Fasciitis.
RICE – Rest. Ice. Compress. Elevate. When you first start noticing the onset of your heel pain, it is usually recommended that you rest your feet as much as possible. You should ice or use cold therapy on your foot throughout the day while you can rest and elevate it to help reduce any swelling and inflammation as well. Compressing the foot with taping it up is also helpful, especially taping or splinting it at night while you sleep. If you do not know how to tape your foot yourself, ask your physical therapist or massage therapist if they can do it and even show you how to reapply the tape as needed.
Massage – Massage your feet and calves yourself, or have someone else to do it for you. This will help relieve any tension and release tightened muscles, reducing the pull on the fascia. You can also roll your foot out with a lacrosse ball, tennis ball, or even a golf ball. Simply place the ball on the ground, kick off your shoes and roll your foot over the ball. Take turns rolling each foot over the ball multiple times. This not only feels great on any sore or tired feet, but it is also quick and easy to do. You can even do this while sitting at the dinner table or on the couch.
Shoes – Wear comfortable and supportive shoes. Walking around barefooted, in flats, or thin soled shoes are not going to give your feet and heels any relief and may even prolong recovery. Whenever possible, where your trainer shoes with the thicker, more cushioned soles to help relieve the heel pain and give your feet better support.
Stretch – Stretch your toes, feet, ankles, and calves. Once the pain and inflammation has gone down, start doing some foot and toe stretches, flex your feet, pull your toes towards you and hold. You may add a little massage to the underside of your foot while you are stretching. Do some against the wall calf stretches, both with a straight and a bent leg to address the gastrocs and the soleus muscles. Standing toe raises are a great exercise to add on as you progress as well.
Plantar Fasciitis really is a pain in the heel. As soon as you start to notice heel pain, go to your doctor to determine the cause and get a diagnosis. The sooner you start to address the issue, the better. Treating and relieving the pain in the early stages are beneficial to overcoming the pain. Prolonged or chronic situations are more difficult to treat and may lead to having to have surgery. So get going on taking care of your feet, we abuse them enough everyday as it is. Remember happy feet equals a happy person.