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Common Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

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Plantar fasciitis is a condition that can last a few days to many years. The condition is an inflammation in the tissue (the plantar fascia) that runs across the bottom of your foot. The result is a constant pain with each step, as the inflamed tissue is stretched and bears weight. Sufferers are also more prone to developing achilles tendonitis, as the pain in the foot leads to a compromised walking step that strains the achilles tendon. Even when the pain has subsided and it feels like the inflammation is gone, one wrong step or a poor pair of shoes can trigger the condition all over again and can lead to a developing of scar tissue in the foot. 

What exactly causes plantar fasciitis? The answer might be surprising - unknown. There are various theories as to what leads to developing this ailment, but nothing has been conclusive. Although the actual cause of plantar fasciitis is unknown, there are factors that are shown to increase your risk of developing it. Combating these common factors will help ward off this terribly uncomfortable condition. 

Prolonged Standing on Hard Surfaces

One of the most common links to plantar fasciitis in middle-aged people is prolonged standing on hard surfaces. This occurs quite often in warehouse workers who are on their feet on concrete floors for long hours. The risk of developing the condition increases in those people who have high arches or are more flat footed. In these cases, wearing proper shoes is important in prevention. It is also important to get off your feet throughout the day. Take sitting breaks to rest your feet and, when standing for prolonged periods of time, use anti-fatigue mats. If you stand a lot at work, your employer should provide you with adequate sitting breaks and a proper mat to protect your feet.

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For those with flat feet, using the proper inserts with your shoes can help reduce your risk of developing plantar fasciitis. If you are already feeling the pain, these inserts can also help alleviate the symptoms.

Over Training

Nearly ten percent of all runners will suffer from plantar fasciitis at some point in their running career.[1] Other athletes, both amateur and professional alike, are at a higher risk of developing this painful stabbing condition. The common link in runners and athletes is overuse, leading to inflammation of the plantar fascia. 

Wearing properly fitting shoes will help reduce your risk of developing the inflammation. Also, listen to your body while training. If you begin to feel pain in your foot or heel, take a break. If the pain becomes more and more persistent, see a medical professional. 

Tight Achilles Tendons

Another commonality in plantar fasciitis sufferers is tight achilles tendons and/or calf muscles. People with tight tendons and muscles are likely to overcompensate their steps or compromise their walking form. The result is an increased burden on the plantar fascia, leading to plantar fasciitis. [2]

If you suffer from tight achilles tendons or calf muscles, practice proper stretching daily (especially before and after exercising). The tighter your tendons and muscles are the more prone to injury you become. You can also purchase a stretching boot to wear while sleeping to help gradually stretch the plantar fascia and achilles tendon. 

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When my wife was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, her physical therapist recommend this night splint. Although not super comfortable to wear while sleeping, it helped gradually stretch her achilles tendon and plantar fascia and increased her recovery period.

Poor Shoes

Wearing poorly fitting or worn out shoes puts an added strain to the bottom of your foot and heel, leading to inflammation. One cause of my wife's plantar fasciitis was a pair of uncomfortable boots that looked nice, but did not fit properly. At the time, she chose fashion over foot health. Make sure your shoes fit properly and dispose of them when the cushioning becomes worn. If you are a runner, the rule of thumb is to change out your shoes every 500 miles, and sooner if you run on rough conditions (such as gravel). 

If you suffer from a low or high arch, seek out shoes that form appropriately to your foot or invest in proper inserts that provide the support your foot needs.

Overweight

People who struggle with their weight are more prone to developing plantar fasciitis symptoms. Increased weight puts more of a burden on your feet, which causes the plantar fascia to work even harder. Being over weight also influences how you walk and the likelihood of compromising a healthy walking form. Along with the burden on your feet, being overweight leads to other health conditions and should be taken seriously. 

Conclusion

Although the actual, specific cause of plantar fasciitis is unknown, the above causes are common traits in people who suffer from this ailment. Doing your part to decrease your odds of inflaming your plantar fascia is simple. Listen to your feet - if you have been standing for prolonged periods of time and your feet feel sore, take a break and sit. Always wear properly fitting shoes and use inserts if you have a unique foot arch. For those training for runs or other athletic activity, remember to stretch every day. Stretching is especially important before and after exercising as it prepares your tendons and ligaments for work and keeps them loose afterwards. 

Plantar fasciitis can be very painful and uncomfortable. If you begin to develop signs of the condition take notice and seek treatment. Prolonged injury of the plantar fascia can lead to increased scar tissue in your foot. This increases your pain level and increases the difficulty in healing the inflammation in your foot. 

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Bibliography

  1. "No Consensus on Plantar Fasciitis." The New York Times. 16/07/2015 <Web >
  2. "Plantar Fasciitis." WebMD. 16/07/2015 <Web >

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