Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the thick band of tissue that stretches from the heel to each toe. The plantar fascia supports the arch of the foot and acts as a shock absorber during walking and running. Shoes that offer proper support for the arch can help prevent plantar fasciitis, which causes a number of symptoms.
Plantar fasciitis develops in stages. It may begin with slight discomfort in the heel or the arch of the foot, especially noticeable when walking or running. Sometimes it feels as if a rock is in one's shoe. This happens more often to people who wear heavy shoes with hard soles and little flexibility.
Another early warning sign of plantar fasciitis is severe pain in one foot in the morning. This pain generally radiates from the heel and along the bottom of the foot and often fades later in the day. During sleep, the fascia shortens. Walking around the next day stretches the fascia and helps relieve the tightness. The pain may flare up again after long intervals of sitting or standing.
Tight calf muscles often point to a problem with the Achilles tendon. A tight Achilles tendon, the strong, fibrous band that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone, can contribute to plantar fasciitis. Furthermore, tight calf muscles inhibit the foot's ability to flex. This immobility can also worsen plantar fasciitis.
Tight tendons increase the risk of plantar fasciitis. People who experience a tightening in the Achilles tendon are more prone to developing this painful condition. With plantar fasciitis, dorsiflexion of the foot (lifting the toes up toward the shin) may worsen the pain. The ability to dorsiflex may also be limited due to tightness in the calf and Achilles tendon.
Pregnant women often note that their feet continuously hurt, even when they are not standing. When standing, they typically shift their weight to find a more comfortable position. This can result in flat feet, which in turn can cause plantar fasciitis. Other factors involved in the development of plantar fasciitis are usually present in pregnant women, such as weight gain, water retention, and uncommon pressure on unusual points of the feet.
Many people have one leg that is just a bit shorter than the other. This generally does not affect walking or inhibit growth. However, it can make a person prone to developing plantar fasciitis. The slight unevenness of gait and posture places more pressure and stress on the longer limb, which can irritate the tissues of the foot.
If one's walking pattern typically places the heel down firmly upon the ground, this can instigate plantar fasciitis. Soldiers in the military are often prone to developing the condition, as they walk quickly with a heel-to-toe stride that places a lot of pressure on the heel. Runners, especially those who run long distances, are also prone to plantar fasciitis.
Unilateral foot pain occurs in more than 75 percent of cases of plantar fasciitis. This could be because most people unconsciously favor one leg or foot over the other. The foot with which an individual begins walking is usually the foot affected by plantar fasciitis. However, the pain can sometimes move from one foot to the other.
Shoes that fit badly or do not provide proper arch support can cause plantar fasciitis, though the condition can also make good shoes feel uncomfortable. When one shoe or its insole wears out more quickly than the other, this can prompt an uneven gait and increase the risk of plantar fasciitis and other foot problems.
Obesity can cause plantar fasciitis, and it can also indicate to individuals that they may eventually develop this condition. Studies show people who are overweight are 70% more likely to develop plantar fasciitis relative to people of healthy weight. These individuals often take shorter steps, which places more pressure on the heel. Carrying more weight is also linked with flattening of the arches of the feet, a risk factor for plantar fasciitis. People with obesity also tend to have more severe plantar fasciitis symptoms.
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