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What is plantar fasciitis?

What is plantar fasciitis?

Do you have pain on the bottom of your foot or your heel when you first get out of bed? Or how about after sitting for awhile? If so, you might have plantar fasciitis.

So what is plantar fasciitis?

The plantar fascia originates on the bottom of the foot from the heel bone and spans with finger-like projections to the 5 toes. It is deep tissue that covers and protects the  muscles of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause for heel pain. Although words ending in “-itis” mean that inflammation is present, the word “fasciitis” is a misnomer because inflammation is not actually present. A change in the plantar fascia is actually a degenerative process – one more thing to deal with as we age!

When pushing off your foot while walking and/or running your toes extend (bend upward), which increases tension on the fascia. The plantar fascia provides inner arch support to the foot and transmits forces from the heel to the front of the foot.

What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?

  • Worse in the a.m. with the 1st few steps, progressively getting better throughout the day, then gets worse in the evening
  • Pain is worse with:
    • Prolonged sitting / rest, physical activity (i.e. beginning of a workout), or both
    • Increased activity level / intensity
    • Lifting your foot up toward your shin and pulling your toes up toward your shin. can cause pain in the plantar fascia, especially if there are ankle/foot joint restrictions
  • Crepitus (crunching) of the plantar fascia


What can cause plantar fasciitis?

  • Physically over stressing the body with activities
  • Running with poor technique
  • Body mass index (BMI) > than 30 kg/m2
  • Middle age
  • Change in activity level
  • Standing for prolonged periods of time and/or on hard surfaces
  • High arches / Low arches
  • Tight achilles (heel cord)
  • Poor footwear
  • Obesity

What exercises are good to do for this condition?

It’s best to get an evaluation from your physical therapist to determine the cause of your foot symptoms to determine the best course of treatment.

In the mean time, you may find some relief with the following exercises:

  • Stretch your calf stretch against the wall with knee straight or off the edge of a step
  • Stretch your calf against the wall with the knee bent
  • Sit and roll a frozen water bottle on the bottom of your foot (this will chill you to the bone, but helps!)
  • Self-massage to bottom of foot
  • <— Stretch your toes against a wall
  • Some people find it beneficial to wear a night splint to stretch foot overnight

Think you have plantar fasciitis? Come in for a physical therapy evaluation at MoveMend. We will help you get back to your spring and summer activities without letting your foot pain hold you back! 

Written by Dr. Carly Catanese

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  • Anthony Smith
    July 24, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    Is there anything else that could help with the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?

    • Andy Pham
      July 24, 2017 at 11:33 pm

      Something that could help are getting specialized shoes with a customized sole!

  • Kathleen Ryan
    July 27, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Do you have any recommendations for shoes with sole?

  • Danie Matthews
    July 28, 2017 at 1:22 am

    I learned about PF my undergrad years but this is a great refresher!

  • Amanda Lacey
    July 28, 2017 at 1:38 am

    Is this most common with athletes?

  • Amanda Johnston
    July 28, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    Thanks for the article! This information is so useful!

  • Georgia Grant
    July 29, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Does this happen more often with people who have jobs that require them to be on their feet?

  • Natalie Schobert
    August 2, 2017 at 1:46 am

    This is helpful information. It’s also a reminder how important it is to exercise to reduce health conditions.

  • Bianca Simpson
    August 2, 2017 at 1:47 am

    How common is PF? Is it more common in young or old people?

  • Mabel Smith
    September 19, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Great article!! I hadn’t known about this before

  • Daniella Gordon
    September 22, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    I get bad cramps in the arch of my foot after sitting for too long and then flexing my foot, could that be related to PF?

  • Charly Neel
    September 22, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    I’m a server so I am on my feet constantly, does this increase or decrease my likelihood of plantar fasciitis?

  • Riley Ellis
    September 24, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    How drastic would the change in activity level have to be to cause plantar fasciitis? I’ve recently more than doubled my daily exercise, am I more at risk?

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