What is plantar fasciitis?

A painful inflammatory condition caused by tissue damage of the plantar fascia, which is a band of connective tissue running from under the heel to the front of the foot.

Symptoms?

The pain is usually first felt underneath the heel
Sharp stabbing pain around the heel bone
Mild swelling
Heel pain after, not during exercise
The pain eventually turns into a dull ache
Heel and/or arch pain

Causes?

Inadequate shoe support may cause overpronation. Excessive overpronation is the main cause of plantar fasciitis.
Certain sports or activities that place a high level of stress on the heel bone and attaching tissue such as running, dancing and aerobics.
As we age this condition is more likely to occur. This is because muscles supporting the arch of the foot tend to become weaker which increases stress on the plantar fascia.
Weight gain increases the load placed on the plantar fascia.
Walking or standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time increases the stress placed on the plantar fascia.

Treatment?

Since plantar fasciitis is a soft tissue injury, immediate treatment follows the RICER principle:

Rest
Refrain from exercise and standing for long hours, or reduce your amount of exercise and avoid any activity that causes pain.
Ice
For the first 48 hours after the injury occurs, ice the injury for 20 minutes at a time every 2-4 hours.
Compression
Apply a bandage around the affected area, making sure the bandage is not so tight that it restricts blood flow.
Elevation
Elevate the leg higher than your heart if possible. This helps to reduce bleeding and encourages fluid to return to the heart for recirculation.
Referral
Seek further medical attention by a GP or physiotherapist to determine the extent of the injury, diagnostic options such as x-ray or surgery, recommended recovery time and treatment options.

Prevention

Ensure that footwear provides adequate cushioning and support, stretch and strengthen the Achilles tendon, maintain a healthy weight, establish a suitable exercise program, prioritise adequate rest periods between each training session and integrate cross-training to relieve pressure of the soles of the feet.