Plantar Fasciitis is a Common Cause of Heel Pain
One of the most common causes of heel pain is plantar fasciitis, or irritation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a sheet of tissue on the bottom of your foot that connects your heel bone to the base of your toes. It helps stabilize your arch and plays a role in shock absorption when you walk, run, and jump.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
These are some of the most common symptoms of plantar fasciitis:
- Arch or heel pain
- Greatest pain occurs with the first few steps after getting out of bed in the morning
- Increased pain after prolonged standing
- Increased pain when initially standing after prolonged sitting
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
Overuse or overstretching of the plantar fascia can lead to pain. This often occurs with too large of a change in activity level or too big of a jump in training volume. You may be more likely to develop pain in your plantar fascia if you have high or flat arches or if you are overweight. Sudden weight gain, such as occurs during pregnancy, can also lead to plantar fasciitis.
Other contributing factors of heel pain include tightness and weakness in the calf muscles. Our calf muscles connect to the Achilles tendon, which attaches to the heel bone. The plantar fascia also attaches to the heel bone. Thus, if your calf muscles are not functioning properly (too tight or too weak), your plantar fascia function can be impacted.
Solve Your Heel Pain
Stretch Your Plantar Fascia
Stretching your plantar fascia prior to getting out of bed in the morning can be helpful to reduce discomfort with those first few steps. Below is a stretch that can easily be done while sitting at the edge of your bed.
Strengthen Your Arch
We have one muscle in the foot that helps stabilize our arch along with the plantar fascia. This muscle controls the big toe. Check out the exercise below to learn how to strengthen this muscle.
Stretch Your Calf
Tight calf muscles pulling on the heel bone can in turn pull on the plantar fascia. Try these 2 stretches to improve flexibility of your calf muscles.
Strengthen Your Calf Muscles
Ensuring your calf muscles are strong enough can also relieve stress off your plantar fascia and reduce heel pain. Below are 2 strengthening exercises for the calf muscles.
Massaging your plantar fascia can reduce your heel pain. This can be done with a frozen water bottle, tennis ball, or lacrosse ball. Try rolling the bottom of your foot on one of these objects.
Manual work in physical therapy, such as dry needling and cupping, can help loosen your calf muscles quickly, relieve tension off the plantar fascia, and reduce heel pain. Check out this blog post to learn more about what dry needling is and how it can help.