Your plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to the base of your toes. You can feel your plantar fascia by pulling your big toe towards your ankle and feeling the pronounced ridge that runs down the middle of your arch.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of this band of connective tissue. When the band is overstretched, tears occur on the surface of the fibrous tissue. Inflammation and pain follow. The pain usually occurs where the plantar fascia attaches at the center/bottom of your heel bone.
Plantar Fasciitis is the most common foot condition in the USA. 1 in 10 people will experience this painful ailment at some point in their lifetime. The most common symptom is stabbing pain on the bottom of your heel. The pain is often worse in the morning or after standing for an extended period.
WHO GETS PLANTAR FASCIITIS?
Plantar fasciitis is a sign of overuse. It is a chronic irritation of the foot due to excessive strain. With this in mind, some people are more prone to developing the condition than others including athletes, people who stand on concrete all day, and people with flat feet or high arches. Active men and women between the ages of 40 and 70 are at the highest risk for developing plantar fasciitis.
- Runners and ballet dancers - High-stress activities put more stress on the plantar fascia.
- People who are overweight - More weight = more stress on your feet.
- Those who stand on hard surfaces all day - We were not designed to stand on concrete all day.
- People with flat feet –When you have flat feet or fallen arches, your plantar fascia overstretches every time you take a step.
- People with high arches – The opposite can occur when you have high, inflexible arches. When you walk, your plantar fascia remains rigid, absorbing too much weight too quickly.
WHAT IS THE MAIN CAUSE FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS?
The plantar fascia, in addition to other muscles and tendons in the foot and lower leg, supports your arch. When excessive forces collapse the arch, plantar fasciitis can occur.
BIOMECHANICS OF THE FOOT AND ANKLE DURING GAIT
Here is how your weight should transfer through your foot as you take a normal step:
- Your foot strikes the ground at the outside corner of the heel. Wear on your shoe at a 45-degree angle is completely normal.
- Your weight moves to the center of your heel, making use of the body's natural fatty pad, located beneath the heel bone.
- As the foot rolls forward, your weight transfers along the outside of your foot until it reaches the ball of your foot.
- The center of weight then moves inward, across the ball of your foot. This inward rolling motion absorbs some of the shocks of the step and is called pronation.
- When your center of weight has moved to a spot just behind the 2nd toe, you push off onto the other foot.
Unfortunately, most people's bio-mechanics are not perfect. Most steps end more like this:
- As the weight shifts inward across the ball off the foot, it continues past the area behind the second toe. This excessive rolling motion is called over-pronation.
- When this happens, the arch of the foot stretches, putting stress on the plantar fascia. In addition, the ankle, knee, and hip rotate inward, compromising the alignment of your bones and joints.
WHAT IS THE BEST TREATMENT FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS?
To relieve pain from plantar fasciitis and keep it from coming back, a 3-prong approach works best:
- Reduce inflammation using ice and ibuprofen
- Stretch and strengthen the ankle, foot, and calf muscles
- Use orthotic for plantar fasciitis to address the cause as well as the symptoms
WHAT INSOLES ARE BEST FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS?
Shoe inserts for plantar fasciitis relieve pain by limiting pronation (the foot rolling inward). To be effective, the best insoles for plantar fasciitis should have these features: firm support, a precise fit that mimics the contours of your arch, a deep heel cup, and resilient cushioning.
- Firm, Medical Grade Arch Support - Firm support is necessary to properly support the arch and limit pronation. Insoles with arches that deflect easily or those made from soft foam will not do the job.
- Precision Fit - For firm support to do its job effectively, it needs to fit the contours of your arch like a glove. Orthotic inserts for plantar fasciitis that accurately match your foot can provide firm support without compromising comfort.
- A Deep Heel Cup - The fatty pad beneath your heel bone is nature's way of decreasing the impact of each step. A deep heel cup on an orthotic keeps the fatty pad centered beneath the heel where it absorbs shock effectively. Also, deep heel cups add to the stability of the foot, improving balance as well as performance in sports-related activities.
Durable, Resilient Cushioning - The natural shock-absorbing pads in our heel help tremendously, but they're not enough. We were not meant to walk on concrete and other hard surfaces all day. The best insoles for plantar fasciitis have a layer of foam on top of the arch support to add cushioning for additional comfort.