Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of pain at the heel, usually on the inside, and is more common in women than in men. It’s related to the structure we call the plantar fascia, a band of thick fibrous tissue that comes from the heel bone and stretches under the foot to the toes. Plantar fasciitis is thought to be caused by overuse and microtrauma.
Contributing factors include tight calf muscles, weakness of the foot muscles, change of footwear and running too much, too soon. Other possible causes include being overweight, having flat feet, having a high arch, or changing shoes. Pain can be quite intense when you first wake up in the morning, with a feeling of heel pain or pain at the bottom of the foot. Or it can be worse after sitting still for long periods of time.
Physiotherapist Stuart Mailer from Kensington Physio & Sports Medicine (kenphysio.com), says:
“Treatment should be first to rest and not run or perform any activities that provoke heel pain. It’s advisable to perform daily stretching on your calf muscles and the foot to reduce tissue tightness.
“Applying ice or using a foam roller on the sole of the foot can help greatly. Orthotics may also help. A strength plan for the lower limbs may also be advisable. Strengthening the foot muscles, calf and lower leg muscles can help as this will give you more muscular balance, reducing load on the plantar fascia.
“To strengthen your calf muscles, try standing calf raises – rise up onto the balls of your feet as high as possible then gradually lower yourself down again. Try three sets of 12 repetitions, daily. To strengthen your feet, try walking around barefoot and also placing a resistance band around the top of your foot and flexing your foot towards you.”