What is it?
The plantar fascia is a long ligament that is attached to the heel and the base of the toes under the foot, so its job is to hold up the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is a condition that develops when this long ligament is damaged.
What are the signs of it?
The pain is under the heel bone on the bottom of the foot and is almost always more painful when taking the first few steps after a period of being off the feet, such as after a nights sleep.
What causes it?
The real cause of plantar fasciitis is there is too much load in the plantar fascia. The load is so great that the structure cannot take it and breaks down. The most common reasons for this higher load are the activity levels being too high (either spending too much time on the feet during the day or taking part in too much sport); a higher body weight (obesity is a common risk factor for plantar fasciitis); tight calf muscles is also a well-researched and common cause of this condition; the final common factor is abnormal foot biomechanics.
What can you do about it?
The best thing to do about it is to get the load of the heel. This usually involves reducing the amount of time spent on the feet and activity levels if playing sport. Strapping can be very useful in the very short term if the symptoms are really bad. Otherwise, properly designed foot supports are what are needed to reduce the forces on the damaged area. Stretching of the calf muscles is extremely important. Sometimes anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to help get over that initial painful phase and so might ice therapy help this as well. Other therapies such as cortisone may also be useful to manage the main. There is also a range of treatments that are also often used to help the tissues heal.