The plantar fascia is a strong band of tissue on the bottom of the foot that connects the heel bone to the base of the toes. This band of connective tissue helps to support the arch of your foot and is naturally stretched when you bend your ankle back and forth, such as is performed with walking or running1.
Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammation of tissue on the bottom of the foot. This occurs when the tissue can become “over stretched”, or from repetitive small tears. Many patient experience plantar fasciitis a result of starting a new job or fitness program requiring increased standing, walking, or running. Factors such as tight calf and hamstring muscles, weight gain (BMI>30), or lack of arch support increases the risk for plantar fasciitis1,2.
Most often the pain will be felt upon first getting up in the morning or after long periods of sitting, and may subside as the ankle “warms up” to activity. As the day progresses, with increased standing and walking, this pain often returns. Many patients report the pain is located along the bottom of the heel and may be tender to touch. If this condition persists for an extended amount of time it can affect the way you walk, leading to problems at the knee, hip, or lower back1,2.
Most patients suffering from plantar fasciitis do well with physical therapy, with about 80% having complete resolution of their pain2. Treatments for this condition target pain control and increasing the range of motion at the ankle often limited by tight muscles. A physician or physical therapist may recommend exercise, hand on techniques (manual therapy), taping techniques, shoe inserts (orthotics), or medication to reduce inflammation.
If you think you may be suffering from plantar fasciitis, contact your primary care physician or physical therapist. Find the sample exercise program below to view exercises commonly used to treat this type of heel pain.
Authored by: Kevin DiGiulio, PT, DPT, COMT
DiGiulio Physical Therapy & Wellness, LLC
- “Plantar Fasciitis – Patient Education Library.” Medbridgeeducation.com. Accessed March 30, 2016. https://www.medbridgeeducation.com/patient-education-library/condition/88-Plantar-Fasciitis.
- “Soft Tissue Pathologies of the Foot and Ankle.” Lecture, Temple University Department of Physical Therapy, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, November 28, 2011.