Heel pain is a common condition in which weight bearing on the heel causing extreme pain and discomfort. One of the most common causes of heel pain is plantar fasciitis.
The plantar fascia is a band of fibrous tissue along the bottom of the foot. Excessive stretching of the plantar fascia, usually due to excessive- pronation (flat feet) is the main cause for plantar fasciitis. Other risk factors include working on hard surfaces, thongs or other ill fitting sandals and work boots. Pregnancy, being overweight and age are also contributing factors. A large number of women over 40 tend to experience plantar fasciitis as one theory suggests that the biochemistry in tendons and ligaments change around this age.
The inflammation caused by the plantar fascia being stretched away from the heel often leads to pain in the heel and area of the arch. The pain is often extreme in the morning when an individual first gets out of bed or after a prolonged period of rest. Pain is also often felt at the end of the day. Weight bearing can be made difficult.
If this condition is left untreated a bony protrusion may develop, known as a heel spur. It is important to treat the condition promptly before it worsens.
Treatment and Prevention
If you suffer from heel pain avoid high-heeled shoes whenever possible. Try to choose footwear with a reasonable heel, soft leather uppers and wear training shoes as much as possible. Stay away from thongs and flip flops and avoid bare foot walking as much as possible, particularly on hard surfaces.
Stepping into training shoes first thing in the morning (have these next to your bed) is one of the best ways to prevent micro tears in the Plantar Fascia as when we are asleep our feet are relaxed and when we get out of bed we put all our body weight onto the affected area and this begins the Inflammatory process all over again.
Stretching the calf muscle will also help along with R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). Please note that ice is one of the most effective ways to reduce inflammation. Try putting a bottle of water in the freezer, once frozen roll it along the entire foot, 10 mins at a time. An arch support is also invaluable as it holds the foot in a neutral position. Strapping techniques are also helpful in the treatment of plantar fasciitis.