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Do you have painful feet? Could you have plantar fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is a thick, weblike ligament that connects your heel to the front of your foot. It’s job is to support the arch of your foot and actually helps you walk. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common complaints I hear from the runners I work with and my friends who are long distance runners.

The fascia are sort of like shock absorbers, supporting the bottom (arch) of the foot. Overtraining or working a job that has you on your feet for hours and hours per day can damage or tear the ligaments causing inflammation which then leads to heel pain and stiffness.


Most people with plantar fasciitis complain of pain on the bottom of the heel and others experience pain at the bottom mid-foot area.

This develops gradually over time. It usually affects just one foot, but it can affect both feet. Some people say the pain as dull, while others experience a sharp pain. Some people describel a burning or ache on the bottom of the foot extending outward from the heel.

The pain is usually worse when you first wake up in the morning as you take your first steps out of bed, or if you’ve been sitting or lying down for a bit. It is usually painful climbing stairs due to heel stiffness.

What are some of the things that could cause plantar fasciitis?


Long distance running

Being on your feet for hours and hours per day

Plantar fasciitis occurs the most in active men and women between the age of 40-70 years old and is more common in women than men. Also, it is common in people who have high arches, flat feet or a tight Achilles tendon.

Try to avoid wearing soft shoes or shoes that lack arch support. Doctors can usually diagnose plantar fasciitis by examining the foot and flexing it in such a way to see where your pain is coming from. Sometimes an x-ray or MRI is recommended to rule out a stress fracture or to see if something else is going on.


Rest. Try to stay off your feet. Ice for 15-20 min. 3-4 times per day to reduce swelling. You can try taking NSAIDS like Motrin or Advil to reduce the pain and swelling. But, I would suggest seeing a doctor and try not to self-diagnose.

Physical therapy can be helpful to help you stretch the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia. A therapist can also show you exercises to strengthen your lower leg muscles, helping to stabilize your walk and lessen the workload on your plantar fascia.

Night splints can help. Night splints are a type of brace that holds your foot in a flexed position that can help to prevent morning pain and stiffness.

Special orthotics, or arch supports or even over-the-counter orthotics that you can insert into your shoes may help the pain by redistributing the pressure. The not-so-good news is that although plantar fasciitis can heal in a matter of weeks, it is common for it to take several months to two years to improve your symptoms.

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