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What is Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spur?

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Updated May 16, 2014

Foot Pain

Foot Pain

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Question: What is Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spur?

Question: My heel hurts when I walk and people say it might be plantar fasciitis. I've seen it spelled planters fasciitis or planter fascitis. Any way you spell it, it hurts. What is it and what can I do about it?

Answer: Plantar fasciitis is that pain in the bottom of your foot or heel that especially hurts first thing in the morning when you try to get out of bed and stand on it, or after sitting for awhile.

It is caused by wounding the tough fascia connective tissue on the bottom of your foot. This band runs from your heel to the ball of your foot. It supports your arch and it transmits your weight across the bottom of the foot with each step you take.

If the plantar fascia gets bruised or over-stretched, the inflammation causes the heel and foot pain. It can also get partially detached from the heel and a calcium deposit can form -- a heel spur.

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spur
1. Overpronation: This is excessive rolling of your foot and ankle with each step. Overpronation can be corrected by wearing motion control running shoes or orthotics.
2. Wearing old shoes: Shoes lose their support and cushioning after 500 miles. If your shoes are a year old and you wear them regularly, they are dead. Get rid of them or you risk injury.
3. Overstriding: This is taking too long of a step in front of your body. Overstriding can also contribute to tight calves and plantar fasciitis.

Treatment
1. Rest: Once you have plantar fasciitis, you should back off of your walking distance and not walk or run through the pain.
2. Icing: Use an ice pack on the foot for 15 minutes after walking.
3. Self-Massage: Massage the foot before getting out of bed in the morning. Use long strokes from the ball down to the heel.
4. Night splint: This device holds your foot flexed at night so that the plantar fascia doesn't tighten up and cause that horrible pain as you stretch it first thing in the morning, which can in fact re-injure it.
More: Top Picks for Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spur Relief: The night splint is number one.

Stretches

Once the pain and swelling have begun to subside, perform these static stretches three times a day. Continue to use this stretch to prevent recurrence of plantar fasciitis and heel spur.
1. Plantar Fascia Stretch
2. Rolling Stretch
3. Step Stretch
4. Calf Stretch

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