The plantar fascia is a relatively inflexible, strong, fibrous band on the bottom of the foot that supports the arch of your foot. Beginning at the heel bone, the plantar fascia extends the length of your foot to connect with your toes at the ball of the foot. When you walk, your weight is distributed across your feet. Any imbalances in the mechanics of your foot and distribution of weight can potentially cause pain.
Repetitive movements such as walking or running stretch the plantar fascia. Because it is not very flexible, this can cause stretching and small tears in the fascia, which will eventually lead to inflammation and pain. Other factors such as high arches, fallen arches, or a change in the walking surface contribute to the stress placed on the plantar fascia and heel.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
People with this condition sometimes describe the feeling as a hot, sharp sensation in the heel. You usually notice the pain first thing in the morning when you stand. After walking for a period of time, the pain usually lessens or even disappears. However, sharp pain in the center of the heel may return after resting for a period of time and then resuming activity.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
A variety of causes exist for plantar fasciitis. Some of the most common causes include:
- Excessive weight load on the foot due to obesity or prolonged standing
- Mechanical imbalances of the foot
- Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Sudden increase in body weight (e.g., pregnancy)
- Sudden increase in walking or running
- Tight calf muscles
- Wearing shoes with poor support