Plantar fasciitis (and its close relation, Achilles tendonitis) causes excruciating foot pain that can be debilitating. This chronic pain condition affects nearly 10% of adults in the U.S. at some point in their lives. The plantar fascia is a long strip of connective tissue that runs from the ball of the foot to the heel. Given the amount of abuse our feet take, it’s no wonder that this arch-supporting band is susceptible to inflammation, strain, and tiny tears along its length. There are a number of plantar fasciitis exercises, though, that can help you heal this hard-working band, strengthening it to prevent future injury.
How do plantar fasciitis exercises help?
It’s important to examine the anatomy and function of the foot to understand how plantar fasciitis exercises can help.
The plantar fascia originates from the heel, runs down the center of the foot, and attaches to all five metatarsal heads and proximal phalanges of the toes. It acts as a major stabilizer of the entire foot, protecting it from rolling too much to either side. The plantar fascia is also the major supporter of the arch of the foot.
The plantar fascia can become inflamed when it’s:
This inflammation causes a chain reaction in the foot. In order to avoid pain, those suffering from plantar fasciitis foot pain may find themselves putting more pressure on other areas of the feet. This can cause strain up the leg and into the calf. Additionally, the hips can feel the burn as improper alignment continues to travel up the leg.
In the most extreme cases, the bone begins to react by overproducing calcium that is deposited in various areas of the foot, most commonly in the joints and where the ligaments and connective tissues attach. This can mean painful, bony deposits anywhere from the heel to the base of each toe. These are called bone spurs or heel spurs.
Plantar fasciitis symptoms
Most people realize they have this condition when they experience foot pain in the morning. Other symptoms of plantar fasciitis can include:
- Sharp pain in the foot upon standing after sitting for a period of time
- Pain in the arch of the foot
- Pain and stiffness in the heel
- Tightness on the bottom of the foot that eases with stretchin