Plantar fasciitis, also known as a heel spur, is painful. “Why are you limping?” sort of painful. Sometimes it is a “Why are you crying?” sort of pain.
Usually it begins when you notice a mild pain in the bottom of your foot, sort of like a small stone bruise. But, instead of getting better, it seems to be getting worse. Then, you start to notice it really hurts (think stabbing pains when you take a step) when you first get up in the morning or when you start to walk after sitting or standing for long periods of time. It can be quite difficult to treat, and if left untreated, it can become chronic.
The pain is in the bottom of your foot, where the heel is attached to the toes by a band of tough, fibrous bands called the plantar fascia. This fascia runs from the toes to the heel, but due to the mechanics of your foot, the fascia is stretched and pulled from the heel end of your foot, and therefore, the pain is concentrated in the bottom of your foot, at the edge of your heel.
Sometimes you can feel a tender lump or knot if you press on the area, which is where the common name of “heel spur” came from. This lump is caused by calcification, or bony growth, resulting from the fascia pulling away from the heel bone.
Several other painful foot issues, such as tendonitis, arthritis, cysts or other conditions can have similar symptoms, so consult your doctor to find out what is causing your pain.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
There are several causes of plantar fasciitis. Overuse or overtraining is a common one among walkers, runners, hikers and other athletes. You can also develop the condition after any strenuous activity which puts a strain on your foot, such as weight lifting, moving furniture, stair climbing, and so on.
The condition can also be caused by being overweight, which puts more pressure on your feet, or having arthritis or even diabetes, which can cause several kinds of foot problems.
Also being older or being pregnant, having flat feet or high arches, and wearing poorly-fitting shoes increase your risk for PF. Regularly wearing high-heeled shoes or working on your feet all the time can also lead to this condition.
If any of these risk factors pertain to you, make sure you learn about the signs of plantar fasciitis and take precautions to avoid it.
Preventing heel spurs
How can you prevent or lessen your risk for developing heel spurs?
--Wear properly fitting shoes. Go to a running shoe store to buy shoes for walking. Most of the people who work there will be experts at fitting shoes and helping you find just the right shoes for your feet.
--Lose weight if you need to. Try losing just 10% of your body weight. That can make a difference and might be enough to prevent PF.
--Control your blood sugar. High blood sugar can be bad news for your feet.
--Alternate high-heeled shoes with flats.
--Cross-train to avoid over-working the same muscles.
--And, of course, get proper instruction for physical conditioning to avoid this and other injuries.
For more information on plantar fasciitis, this DVD set, developed by someone who suffered from it, can provide answers and remedies:
For information and help for other foot pains and problems, buy this top-rated book: