Have you ever woken up one morning and as you step out of bed and place your foot on the ground suddenly get a shooting pain through your foot?  You ask yourself how this happened or think about what you did yesterday that might have brought this on.  What you may be suffering from is plantar fasciitis; this condition is caused by an inflammation in the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot that holds your bones in place.  When this area is inflamed, it can make standing for long periods of time or even walking very difficult and painful. In most cases, it could be due to running or walking, an increase in weight gain, a flattened or very high arch or if you generally have a tight Achilles tendon.

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How Does this Happen?

First, a little anatomy lesson, as mentioned above the plantar fascia is a thick and broad band of fibrous connective tissue that runs along the bottom or plantar surface of the foot.  It attaches to the heel, the calcaneus, and fans out along the length of the metatarsal bones to attach right at the the region of the balls of the feet.  The foot normally has an arch and the plantar fascia is located at the base of that arch and acts like a thick bowstring on a violin to keep the arch in the foot.  The plantar fascia acts as a rubber band and will move and contract and loosen when there is movement in the foot.

When there has been repeated microscopic tears at or near the attachment of the plantar fascia and the calcaneus, inflammation and pain is what occurs.  Again, due to any type of increased activity in sports, running on your toes and other examples mentioned above, they can all contribute to plantar fasciitis.   Bone spurs or heel spurs can sometimes pop up as a result of plantar fasciitis.

The pain usually starts out as a dull pain in the heel that occurs on and off, but over time, will progress into sharp and constant pain in the heel.  It tends to be worse first thing in the morning because the ligaments tighten as you sleep or after sitting or standing for a long period of time.  The pain lessens as you walk around more and warm up the tissue and increases when standing or walking.

Since the plantar fascia supports and absorbs so much weight and pressure, any type of excessive jumping or putting on some extra pounds can exacerbate the problem.   A more widely known reason for plantar fasciitis is wearing incorrect shoes.  The shoes either do not fit properly or do not provide enough support or cushioning.

Different Methods to Heal Your Heel

Plantar fasciitis can usually be treated without having to resort to surgery but the recovery time can vary from person to person depending on the severity of the inflammation and tear of the ligament.  Obviously the RICE method, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation will be beneficial in this case, especially right after a sporting activity or running.  If it is possible, avoid the activity that aggravates the fasciitis and stretching of the Achilles tendon can help as well.  In order to prevent this condition, improving the flexibility of the ankle and calf muscles will greatly help with relieving the tension that may be felt in the plantar fascia.

A simple stretch that can be done is Sitting Seza using a yoga strap around your ankles, a simple pose which can be found on Yoga Tune Up® Quick Fix for Feet and Ankles or on the Quickfix Rx DVD.  This stretch is one great way to begin to regain some flexibility in your ankles and Achilles tendon and get that deep stretch that is so needed in the plantar fascia.

Read more about Plantar Fasciitis.

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