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What causes Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis)???

26th May 2017

What causes Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis)???

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. Heel pain is most common in the 40 – 60 year age group. It is so prevalent that ~80% of adults will suffer a bout of heel pain over the course of their adult life-time.

The plantar fascia is a strong structure in the arch of the foot, kind of like a bow-string. When the plantar fascia becomes injured, pain is felt in the front of the heel and sometimes in the arch of the foot. It is much worse first thing in the morning and after rest periods, causing you to hobble like old Mother Hubbard. Unfortunately this hobbling can then cause pain and tightness in other parts of your body!

So what actually CAUSES heel pain??

To put it simply, plantar fasciitis occurs when the continual daily mechanical load on the plantar fascia (main supporting structure of the arch) is greater then what the body can continue to repair.

Every time you rest or sleep, your body goes into repair mode to heal any little niggly stuff that has happened throughout the day. In an optimally functioning body, tissue load would equal tissue repair. When plantar fasciitis occurs it is because tissue load is much greater than tissue repair. This excessive load causes a weakening and degeneration of the plantar fascia, and in some cases tears may be present. The condition is now more correctly termed plantar fasciosis (degeneration) instead of plantar fasciitis (inflammation).

The following factors may contribute to increase mechanical load of the plantar fascia:
  • Occupations which require lots of walking or standing on hard surfaces.
  • Foot Posture – having collapsed arches or high arch, rigid feet cause increase load on the plantar fascia.
  • Over-training or sudden increase in training.
  • Being over-weight – even with good foot posture those extra kg’s dramatically increase the load on the plantar fascia.
  • Certain types of training that place a lot of stress on the feet – long distance running, sprinting, ballet, basketball etc - may contribute to an earlier onset of plantar heel pain.
  • Certain medical conditions may predispose people to developing heel pain such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Quite often however, the finger pointing can’t just go towards the over-training, the long hours or the hard surfaces at work. More often than not, our feet are just not capable of doing their job! They’ve become stiff, rigid and weak and therefore no longer act as efficient springs for our bodies.

This is largely due to our modern footwear. Shoving your feet into pointy toe shoes all day switches off your intrinsic foot muscles which makes your feet lazy. As your big toe gets pushed towards your second toe – it can no longer support your arch. Having a heel raise in your shoe tightens up your calf muscles which in turn strains your arch more.

Our toes are supposed to be able to spread, our heels should be on the ground. Over time our feet have become stiff, weakened, crappy structures – allowing heel pain to occur. To address the real cause of heel pain we need to wake these feet up again – unlock their true potential!

At Foundation Podiatry we have designed the ACTIVE FOOT FORMULA to do just this.

For more detailed information on heel pain click here.

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