Plantar fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis) involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain.
Plantar fasciitis commonly causes stabbing pain that usually occurs with your very first steps in the morning. Once your foot limbers up, the pain of plantar fasciitis normally decreases, but it may return after long periods of standing or after getting up from a seated position.
Plantar fasciitis is particularly common in runners. In addition, people who are overweight, women who are pregnant and those who wear shoes with inadequate support are at risk of plantar fasciitis.
Follow these self-care tips to ease pain and discomfort in your foot:
- Put your feet up. Stay off your feet for several days when the pain is severe.
- Apply ice. Hold a cloth-covered ice pack over the area of pain for 15 to 20 minutes three or four times a day or after activity. Or try ice massage. Freeze a water-filled paper cup and roll it over the site of discomfort for about five to seven minutes. Regular ice massage can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Decrease your miles. You probably won’t have to permanently retire your running or walking shoes, but it’s a good idea to cover shorter distances until pain subsides.
- Take up a no- or low-impact exercise. Swap swimming or bicycling in for walking or jogging. You’ll likely be able to return to your regular activities as heel pain gradually improves. However, some people find that the only way to avoid a recurring problem is to give up high-impact activities, such as running and some forms of dance.
- Add arch supports to your shoes. Inexpensive over-the-counter arch supports take the tension off the plantar fascia and help absorb shock.
- Stretch your arches. Simple exercises using household objects can stretch your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
- You can take some simple steps now to prevent painful steps later:
- Maintain a healthy weight. This minimizes the stress on your plantar fascia.
- Choose supportive shoes. Avoid high heels. Buy shoes with a low to moderate heel, good arch support and shock absorbency. Don’t go barefoot, especially on hard surfaces.
- Don’t wear worn-out athletic shoes. Replace your old athletic shoes before they stop supporting and cushioning your feet. If you’re a runner, buy new shoes after about 500 miles of use.