foot pain

People rarely acknowledge how important their feet are to their everyday life….that is until they experience foot pain!  Think about it…you use your feet to pivot, turn, step, walk, run and to keep you balanced.  But when you experience foot pain, these seemingly simple functions can become quite challenging.

The most common type of foot pain is known as plantar fasciitis.  The plantar fascia is a layer of connective tissue on the bottom or sole of the foot and provides support to the foots arch.  The plantar fascia plays a major role in the function and mechanics of walking or running.

Feel The Burn!

The plantar fascia is relaxed when the toes are pointed down and the foot is in the “plantar flexed” position.  Conversely, the plantar fascia is tight and undergoes tension when the toes and foot are pointed upwards, “dorsi flexed.”  When this tension persists, the plantar fascia can become irritated and develop “burning-like” symptoms at the bottom of the foot.  The most specific problem area tends to be close to the heel.  The heel bone or calcaneus provides the foundation at the rear of the foot and is also the origin point of the plantar fascia.

Pain In The Heel

A cardinal symptom of plantar fasciitis is a sharp pain in the heel of the foot upon walking and taking your first steps in the morning.  The foot is typically in a restful state in plantar flexion throughout the night while you sleep.  When you wake in the morning and take your first steps, there is a sudden jolt of tension shot into the plantar fascia as it is quickly stretched.  This makes a very painful start to the day for many people.  In this case, specific stretches can be performed each morning before getting out of bed to help alleviate these symptoms.  Click here to read What You Should NOT Do if You Suffer From Numbness and Tingling.

Factors Of Plantar Fasciitis

The name of the diagnosis is kind of a misnomer.  Any diagnosis that ends with the word “itis” usually indicates the condition involves significant inflammation.  In actuality there is research to both support and negate the relationship inflammation actually has with this condition.  The most important factors have to do with poor foot position or posture.  In most cases it is due to being flat footed or over pronating their foot when walking.  People that are flat footed are overusing the muscle at the bottom of the plantar fascia until it becomes irritated, causing plantar fasciitis.  This is something that can happen at any age and is very common.

Plantar fasciitis doesn’t tend to discriminate and is usually associated with poor postural habits and lifestyle.  The condition is also common with increased activity and repetitive strain.  Transitioning to new footwear can also trigger plantar fasciitis resulting in the soft tissue breaking down.  Accumulative effects of gravity over time, along with weight gain can also precipitate plantar fasciitis.

Conservative care might include frequent icing, wearing a supportive slipper around the house, night brace, and taping.

Prevention For Foot Pain

Prevention is best achieved through properly functioning feet.  Supportive footwear is critical and with a foot scan and examination by the appropriate healthcare provider to determine if custom orthotics are indicated.

Because the condition has become a buzz word, many people are misdiagnosed by their healthcare providers.  A stress fracture, bursitis, neuritis, contusion of the calcaneus or a nerve entrapment need to be excluded as potential conditions causing similar symptoms.

The most important thing here is to find the right healthcare practitioner who will conduct a thorough consultation and examination in order to achieve an accurate diagnosis.

Here’s to you putting your best foot forward.

You’re one step closer!

For additional information and at home stretches click here to read CORRECTIVE EXERCISES FOR RELIEVING FOOT PAIN.

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