Plantar Fasciitis Causes
When the plantar fascia is stressed, the risk of tiny tears and inflammation increases. Stress on the fascia along the bottom of your foot may occur for a number of reasons including overuse, improper footwear, a fascia that is too tight, weakened tissue, or having other conditions that puts the plantar fascia at risk.
Overuse and Overloading
The main cause of plantar fasciitis is overuse and overloading the plantar fascia in occupations where you are on your feet all day (teachers, store clerks, soldiers, waitresses, hostesses), activities that require you to push heavy items (shippers and receivers, construction workers) and/or sporting activities in which you overexert yourself (doing too much, too fast and/or too soon), especially running, football, baseball, basketball, tennis, volleyball, step-aerobics, stair climbing and dancing. Running on your toes or the balls of your feet, on very hard or soft surfaces, and up hills can increase your risk and suffering.
Among professional athletes, plantar fasciitis is one of the 5 most common foot and ankle injuries. However, weekend warriors or people who have a rapid change in their activity levels are prone to this condition.
Your plantar fascia is only able to stretch to 102% of its length without tearing; therefore it may not be strong enough to withstand the stress placed on it by your lifestyle.
Approximately 90% of women and 40% of men with plantar fasciitis are overweight. Obesity or sudden weight increases can overstretch and increase the tension placed on your plantar fascia. The additional weight gained during pregnancy along with the hormonal changes can cause your ligaments and tissues to relax, which heightens your risk for this disorder.
Another common causes of Plantar Fasciitis is the shortening of the plantar fascia. If your foot is held for long periods of time in a position where your toes are pointed, the plantar fascia may become shortened. Within the body muscles, tendons, or ligaments that are in a shortened position for any length of time will become tighter and shorter. Image the neck of a T-shirt that becomes permanently deformed if it is stretched too much.
Faulty foot structures (abnormal growths, different leg lengths, arch variations, and unhealed injuries), muscle imbalances (tight, weak or shortened muscles in your foot, ankle, calf and hamstring) and poor biomechanics (abnormal twisting of your foot) affect the way your foot hits the ground (your gait).
Overpronation (feet rolling inward) is found in 85% of people who suffer from plantar fasciitis. These individuals tend to have a low arch and flat foot (pes planus). Those who underpronate (feet rolling outward) tend to have rigid feet and a high arch (pes cavus) which results in a shortened plantar fascia. These issues place increased pressure on your plantar fascia when your foot hits the ground.
As you age your tissues break down and weaken; your plantar fascia changes from an elastic-like fiber to a more rigid, rope-like fiber, the fat pad in your heel thins out and doesn't provide as much cushioning, which cause it to swell, bruise and/or tear.
Worn out, old, poorly constructed shoes that don't fit properly or don't support your heel or arch affect the distribution of your body weight on your foot and add undue stress to your plantar fascia. High heeled shoes commonly worn by women are famous for leading to the eventual shortening of the plantar fascia. They don't just shorten the plantar fascia, they shorten the calf muscles as well. Whenever you stand on your toes these muscles contract and shorten. Tight calf muscles can increase the problems associated with Plantar Fasciitis.
Other factors that may cause plantar fasciitis are:
- Neurological disorders that affect the brain or nervous system (nerve damage from tarsal tunnel syndrome, tibial/plantar/calcaneal nerve entrapment or irritation)
- Diabetes, Osteoarthritis and Inflammatory disorders - rheumatoid arthritis, Reiter's disease, Behcet syndrome, ankylosing spondylitis, spondyloarthropathies, diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis, bowel disease, psoriasis, fibromyalgia
- Disk herniation
- Stress fractures of calcaneus or bone tumors
Plantar Fasciitis Treatments
Conservative treatments tend to be the best way to treat plantar fasciitis. However, it can take months to years to heal depending on your situation and commitment to treatment (6 weeks to 6 months or longer). To improve healing time and treat your pain naturally, cold compression therapy and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ are recommended.
Cold Compression Therapy
When you are experiencing pain, swelling, and inflammation in the bottom of your foot, doctors recommend cold compression therapy. Cold compression therapy reduces tissue damage caused by swelling and inflammation and treats your foot pain quickly.
Cold compression therapy works by interrupting and slowing nerve and cell function in the damaged area. This is important because once blood vessels are damaged, they can no longer carry oxygenated blood to the plantar fascia and tissue cells begin to break-down.
The Plantar/Spur Freezie Wrap® allows you to treat yourself in an effective and convenient way and the deep cold provided by the Plantar/Spur Freezie Wrap® slows cell function thereby reducing cellular break-down. Furthermore, because the cold wraps serve to numb the nerves, the wraps also reduce pain!
The cooling gel pack inside every Freezie Wrap® have been designed with ColdCure Technology®. The specially formulated gel allows the pack to be supercharged in the fridge, not in the freezer like ice or other freezer packs. The Freezie Wrap® gives you deep cold compression therapy without the risk of 'cold burns' or cryoburn to the layers of your skin. This unique technology, inside a soft and completely adjustable neoprene wrap, gives you comfortable, convenient, and effective cold compression therapy.
In addition, the specially designed foot wrap has an adjustable compression band so you can control the amount of pressure that feels good around your foot.
Click here to learn more about ColdCure Technology®
Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™
Once inflammation and swelling have been reduced in your plantar fascia, nourishing and strengthening the tissue in your foot is the goal. Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®) promotes blood flow to the treatment area bringing the necessary oxygen and nutrients to your plantar fascia and other weakened tissue. BFST® speeds up the body's natural repair process for faster healing and stronger tissue.
Extremities of the body, like the foot, do not receive much blood flow naturally and when you stop moving your foot because it hurts, you are not creating the natural blood flow it usually receives. With the use of Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ you can increase your body's blood supply to the plantar fascia.
In addition, the fresh blood flow whisks away dead cells and toxins (including lactic acid, commonly found in trigger points) that have built up from the injury leaving the area clean and better prepared for healing. Our Plantar/Spur Inferno Wrap® provides effective, non-invasive, non-addictive pain relief with no side effects.
Keeping your planter fascia and foot as healthy and strong as possible throughout the healing process will allow you to get back to your regular activities faster. The Plantar/Spur Inferno Wrap®, available exclusively from MendMeShop®, provides effective, non-invasive, non-addictive pain relief and healing with no side effects.
The benefits of BFST® do not end once your foot pain stops! Even when your plantar fascia has healed, your activities can put it at risk of an overuse injury, tightness, or another tear. An Inferno Wrap® treatment before activity is an easy way to warm up the tissues and prepare them for use. Then, end your day with another treatment to prevent tightness from setting in overnight. This incredible healing tool will be the ticket to healthy feet for years to come!
Click here to learn more about BFST®
During your recovery, you will probably have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort in your foot until your pain and inflammation settle. With these 3 easy therapies you will notice great improvement within a few weeks, with most patients seeing some improvement quickly. The more diligent you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results. If you start using your plantar fascia before it has a chance to heal properly (even though it may feel better), you can end up doing a lot more damage than good!
Wearing a night splint to treat your plantar fasciitis allows you to begin your day in significantly less pain and heals your inflamed fascia ligament faster.
Night splints are designed to maintain a gentle stretch of the plantar fascia while you sleep. Your ankle is stabilized at an angle that prevents the fascia ligament from becoming taut as you relax your foot throughout the night. As a result, you will no longer go through the painful process of restretching the fascia ligament in the morning.
Preventing the fascia from becoming taut as you sleep alleviates the painful mornings all too familiar to plantar fasciitis sufferers and accelerates the healing process. Our lightweight, padded, low-profile Dorsal Night Splint and Night Splint with Tread will give you the stretch you need while you sleep comfortably and heal your pain.
Stretching to Relieve Plantar Fasciitis Pain
Stretching will help to alleviate tightness in your foot, lower leg and hamstring muscles.
The calf muscles are made up of several muscles which serve to plantar flex the foot. These include the gastrocnemius, the soleus, and the plantaris muscles. When these muscles are tight they can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis. Stretching of these muscles can reduce the symptoms. Consult your doctor to discuss which stretches work best for you.
There are several techniques which include:
- A lunge with one foot while leaving the heel of the other foot planted on the ground. Leaning into the lunge will stretch the calf muscle of the back leg. Do not bounce as you stretch as this may cause tendon damage. A nice, steady stretch held for 30-60 seconds will give you the desired results. You should stretch both legs even if only one side is bothering you. This should be repeated several times per day.
- A very simple stretch to get started can be done by standing with the feet at shoulder width. Go into a full squat with your knees bent all of the way. While in this full squatting position your can lean forward and you should feel the stretch in your calf muscles and your feet. You may support yourself with your hands if you feel like you are having trouble keeping your balance. Throughout the stretch you should push your heels toward the ground as you lean forward. This is a good stretch of your soleus muscle.
- Another stretch that will help starts with you putting your toes on a step and your heel on the floor below. Lean into this foot and you will feel a stretch in your calf muscles and foot. This stretch primarily focuses on the gastrocnemius muscle when you keep the knee straight.
- You may also consider stretching the gluteal muscles and hamstrings. This is because they, along with the calf muscles share the same fascial plane and kinetic chain. Releasing tension in these muscles and the fascia that surrounds them through stretching, will take tension off of the plantar fascia as well.
- One of the most important times to stretch is in the morning. People with plantar fasciitis know that this is the most painful time. The reason is that the feet naturally plantar flex when we lay down to sleep. Over eight hours of plantarflexion the plantar fascia becomes taut again. This makes the first steps of morning particularly painful. Stretching before these first steps has been shown to alleviate this problem in 72% of people.(1)
- A night splint is a very effective device that maintains a stretch in the plantar fascia throughout the night. Preventing the fascia from becoming taut as you sleep alleviates the painful mornings all too familiar to plantar fasciitis sufferers and accelerates your healing. Our lightweight, padded, low-profile Dorsal Night Splint and Night Splint With Tread will give you the stretch you need while you sleep comfortably and will allow you to awaken pain free
- Consistent stretching of the posterior leg muscles including the calf muscles, gluteal muscles and hamstrings can be very beneficial. That is why it is one of the treatments of choice for therapists, doctors and athletic trainers.
Physical therapy will help to improve pain in tissues and restore your weakened muscles through use of ultrasound, muscle stimulation or extracorporeal shockwave therapy and will provide you with a customized exercise program.
Chiropractic care, deep massage, reflexology and acupressure have also shown to be effective in relieving tension, strengthening your foot and helping with alignment.
Please be aware that this information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.