Plantar Fasciitis Causes You Need to Know About

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain that doctors see. And it can be a pain to get rid of if you don’t identify the contributing factors and seek proper treatment. Here are some common plantar fasciitis causes you need to know about — as well as treatment options to bring relief to your heel pain.

What is plantar fasciitis?

First things first: What is plantar fasciitis? “Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammation of the plantar fascia, a fibrous band of tissue on the bottom of the foot that helps to support the arch,” according to Harvard Medical School. “Plantar fasciitis occurs when this band of tissue is overloaded or overstretched. This causes small tears in the fibers of the fascia, especially where the fascia meets the heel bone.”

People usually experience the pain on the bottom of their heel, but some might feel it toward their arch, as well, according to Healthline. It’s typically only in one foot, but it’s not unheard of for people to experience it in both feet. “Some people describe the pain as dull, while others experience a sharp pain,” Healthline says. “Some people feel a burning or ache on the bottom of the foot extending outward from the heel.”

The worst pain often is when you take your first steps after waking up for the day or sitting for a prolonged period. Climbing stairs also can be difficult because of the stiffness and pain in the heel. The pain usually diminishes after you’ve moved around a bit, but it might come back later in the day — especially after spending a lot of time on your feet or after (but not usually during) exercise. And if you don’t identify what’s causing the pain and seek treatment, it tends to get worse over time.

Common causes of plantar fasciitis

woman experiencing foot pain during a workoutCredit: sawaddee3002/Getty Images

Although it’s often difficult to narrow down the exact cause of plantar fasciitis, there are several factors that can contribute to a person’s risk.

Weight

People who are overweight or obese — as well as women who are pregnant — are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis. “This is due to the increased pressure on your plantar fascia ligaments, especially if you have sudden weight gain,” according to Healthline.

Foot arches

The structure of your foot can play a major role in the development of plantar fasciitis. “Being flat-footed, having a high arch or even having an abnormal pattern of walking can affect the way weight is distributed when you’re standing and put added stress on the plantar fascia,” according to Mayo Clinic.

Poor footwear

It should come as no surprise that improper footwear can contribute to plantar fasciitis. Shoes that don’t offer enough arch support, heel cushion or sole flexibility can be problematic, according to Harvard Medical School. Likewise, repetitive pounding on hard surfaces — such as running on concrete — can cause the pain to flare up.

Increased physical activity

A sudden or excessive increase in physical activity can cause inflammation in the fascia. “In athletes, plantar fasciitis may follow intense training, especially in runners who push themselves too quickly to run longer distances,” Harvard Medical School says. But it also can occur if you overexert yourself doing a physical task you’re not used to, such as moving furniture around the house.

Repetitive exercises

Plantar fasciitis commonly occurs in people who participate in repetitive impact exercises, such as running. “Activities that place a lot of stress on your heel and attached tissue — such as long-distance running, ballistic jumping activities, ballet dancing and aerobic dance — can contribute to an earlier onset of plantar fasciitis,” according to Mayo Clinic.

Time spent on your feet

Just like with repetitive exercises, spending a lot of time on your feet during the day might result in some painful inflammation — simply due to overuse. “Factory workers, teachers and others who spend most of their work hours walking or standing on hard surfaces can damage their plantar fascia,” Mayo Clinic says.

Tight calves

Tight muscles in your feet and calves can make it difficult to flex your foot properly, resulting in an uncomfortable gait that causes inflammation. Specifically, “tight Achilles tendons, which are the tendons attaching your calf muscles to your heels,” can lead to plantar fasciitis, according to Healthline. So it’s critical to stretch your calves before exercising — especially for those who wear high-heeled shoes all day.

Age

Plantar fasciitis is most common among active adults between the ages of 40 and 70, according to Healthline. Plus, women are slightly more likely to develop it than men.

Ignoring the pain

If you’re experiencing a little bit of heel pain and choose to ignore it (and continue with inflammatory activities), you might be in for a full-blown case of plantar fasciitis. “Ignoring plantar fasciitis may result in chronic heel pain that hinders your regular activities,” according to Mayo Clinic. Plus, it might lead to other issues due to changes in your gait, including knee, hip and back pain. So it’s always best to listen to your body and take the appropriate course of action.

Treatment options

therapist assisting patient to use a foot roller for plantar fasciitisCredit: Antonio_Diaz/Getty Images

Fortunately, conservative treatment methods  — including rest, icing and stretching — often improve cases of plantar fasciitis, though it might take several months to see results. According to Mayo Clinic, your doctor might recommend physical therapy to help you stretch and strengthen your leg and foot muscles. They also might prescribe orthotics to better support your feet or a night splint that stretches your calf and arch while you sleep.

If the conservative measures aren’t helping, your doctor might suggest steroid injections to help with pain, along with anti-inflammatory medications. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy — in which sound waves are focused on the injured site to stimulate healing — also has shown some promising (but not consistent) results. As a last (and rare) resort, your doctor might recommend surgery that detaches the plantar fascia from the heel bone, though this is not always successful.

Along with professional treatment, there are several remedies you can try at home for plantar fasciitis. First, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight and choose comfortable footwear. “Don’t go barefoot, especially on hard surfaces,” Mayo Clinic says. If your exercise routine is causing you problems, try switching to something with a lower impact, such as swimming or cycling. Learn how to properly stretch your calves and feet. And apply ice to any painful area to reduce the inflammation. With some diligent care, you could be back on your feet pain-free before you know it.

Main image credit: ljubaphot/Getty Images

47 comments

Peggy B
Peggy B11 days ago

Good to know.

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Tabot T
Tabot T15 days ago

Thanks for sharing!

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Leo C
Leo C20 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Lorraine Andersen

thanks for sharing

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Paulo Reeson
Paulo R20 days ago

ty

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Ruth S
Ruth S21 days ago

Thanks.

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Ruth S
Ruth S21 days ago

Also, have a Physical Therapist or Chiropractor check to see if your hips are even and your legs are the same length. There are simple solutions to those problems that also cause foot pain!

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Leo C
Leo C21 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Sherry K
Sherry Kohn21 days ago

Many thanks to you !

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Danuta W
Danuta Watola21 days ago

thank you for posting

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