If you have pain in your heel after running, walking or even standing, you could have plantar fasciitis, which is the most common problem for those complaining of heel pain. In fact, there are approximately 2 million new cases per year.
What Does Plantar Fasciitis Feel Like?
The main complaint of those who suffer from plantar fasciitis is pain and stiffness in the bottom of the heel. Although it’s possible to have this problem in both feet, it usually only affects one. Pain can range from dull in nature to sharp and throbbing.
For most people, pain is felt in the morning when they first wake up, but it can also flare up after sitting for an extended period of time.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
The plantar fascia is a long ligament that connects the heel to the front of the foot and supports the arch of the foot. Especially in runners and athletes, the plantar fascia can become damaged and worn after too much high-impact physical activity such as running and jumping. The body’s natural reaction to this is inflammation, which causes pain and stiffness.
While athletes are more prone to this issue, there are several risk-factors that could increase susceptibility for anyone:
- Obesity – Those who are overweight can put more pressure on the plantar fascia than it is naturally meant to bear, often resulting in plantar fasciitis.
- Naturally High Arches – For those who have naturally high arches on the bottom of their feet, the shape of the foot may cause extra tension when pushing off. This extra tension sometimes leads to inflammation.
- Too Much Activity Too Soon – If a person has been inactive for extended periods of time and then begins an intense workout regimen, they’re more at-risk for plantar fascia inflammation.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis
Many cases of plantar fasciitis could improve with simple home care. If you’re feeling symptoms of this condition, perform the following actions to prevent inflammation and treat any pain and discomfort you may feel.
Get Some Rest
Especially in cases where the tendon has been overused after long periods of inactivity, rest is the most effective treatment method. After taking a few days off, do simple, low-impact activities and then begin to gradually increase the intensity of your workouts.
Perform Calf & Foot Stretches
Stretching before and after physical activity is recommended for all of your muscles and tendons, but for those with heel pain, foot and calf stretches can be particularly effective.
Since plantar fasciitis is caused by inflammation, ice can help to decrease the amount of swelling in your foot. Applying an ice pack or a frozen water bottle on the affected area 3 to 4 times a day for 20 minutes per session can provide effective relief.
Take Anti-Inflammatory Medication
Most over-the-counter pain relievers are anti-inflammatory in nature. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) naproxen sodium (Aleve) and aspirin can all reduce swelling and dull heel pain.
Recurring Heel Pain May Require Professional Care
If you’ve tried home treatment to get rid of heel pain, but the problem persists, you may need to be treated by a medical professional. An orthopedist will be able to provide options including, cortisone injections, physical therapy and even surgery if necessary.