Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia of the foot. This is a band of ligamentous tissue that runs from the ball of the foot to the heel. The fascia is designed to support the arch of the foot and act as a shock absorber. When there is a biomechanical problem which creates repetitive stretching of the fascia, inflammation and fasciitis results. Without changing the biomechanical forces or treatment of the condition, it can become chronic and very painful over a long period of time.
One of the reasons for repetitive stress is a shortened or tight Achilles tendon which acts on the heel of the foot. A tight tendon, in combination with other factors, such as poor shoes, high arch or flat feet, suddenly increased intensity or milage for runners, and being overweight, will significantly increase your risk for developing fasciitis.
A tight Achilles tendon will change the biomechanical movement of the foot, pushing the foot to overpronation and chronic stretching of the foot. One of the treatments for plantar fasciitis is also to improve the function and length of the Achilles tendon and improve the flexibility of the calf muscle.
Pain is the main symptoms of the problem and can happen anywhere from the heel to the arch of the foot. Pain will be worse in the morning after the foot has been pointed or flexed all night. This flexion places the fascia in a contracted position. When the fascia is stretched in the morning as you get out of bed, it triggers pain. Walking upstairs, walking on tiptoes or sitting for long periods of time can cause sudden stretching of the sole of your foot.
Treatment for plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis should be started conservatively. Both should be started simultaneously and treated with stretching, icing, anti-inflammatory medications, strengthening exercises and splinting. Both conditions can become chronic and create an environment in which you experience pain with each step and keeps you from participating in most recreational activities.
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