Plantar Faciitis: tricky to say and extremely unpleasant to experience! Pronounced PLAN-tar fah-cee-EYE-tis, this foot condition specifically refers to the bottom of the foot. Fascia – Latin for the tough, fibrous outer casting of muscle – becomes irritated and inflamed making it painful to walk. If caught early Plantar Faciitis is easier to remedy than if you wait until it becomes chronic. This painful, annoying condition frequently affects athletes, among them Kobe Bryant who learned in 2004 that Plantar Faciitis was the cause of his foot pain.
Kobe Bryant is not alone. Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs and tennis player Pete Sampras were also reported to have suffered from Plantar Fasciitis. In May of 2011, Sports Illustrated reported that Scott Podsednik of the Toronto Blue Jays was working diligently towards a full recovery from his plantar fasciitis. Though athletes like these have faced treatment for Plantar Faciitis, it’s actually a condition that most frequently plagues runners.
So, why are athletes so susceptible to this kind of foot pain? To answer this question first you must understand what Plantar Fasciitis is. This extremely painful inflammation occurs in the connective tissue (fascia) at the bottom of the foot (plantar). The Plantar Fascia is a band of connective tissue that begins at the bottom of the heel bone and extends along the bottom of the foot to the toes. This muscle also helps support the arch of the foot, though pain is often first felt in the heel.
Plantar Fasciitis seems to strike most after long periods of putting weight on one’s feet. Athletes are more prone to Plantar Fasciitis because of the stress and tension placed on the Plantar Fascia when running long distances or putting repetitive stress on the heel. Sports like basketball tend to invite the condition since athletes are constantly jumping and pounding down on the heel, but really, any sport or activity where that part of the foot is being used extensively increases the odds of developing Plantar Fasciitis.
That said, even non-athletes who develop Plantar Fasciitis have often put excessive weight on the foot either as a result of obesity, sudden weight gain, prolonged standing, Osteoarthritis and/or Rheumatoid Arthritis and wearing shoes with poor support (and sigh…have you ever noticed that some of the best looking shoes are the ones with poor support?!)
People who suffer from Plantar Fasciitis sometimes describe the feeling as a hot, sharp sensation in the heel, often experienced first thing in the morning which dissipates as the day wears on. This ebb and flow of the pain might explain why it’s often tempting to procrastinate giving this condition the attention it needs. What’s more, the pain associated with it can be felt most intensely after a period of rest. So what is a sufferer to do???
Well, there are a number different treatment options. Since Plantar Fasciitis is so common in athletes, sports therapy clinics often offer the most comprehensive selection of choices available. These can include stretching exercises, massage, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and preventative programs. The most popular treatment for Plantar Fasciitis, by far, is custom foot orthotics.
A custom foot orthotic stabilizes the foot, provides arch support, absorbs shock and cushions the heel. Custom foot orthotics are far superior to over the counter orthotics that are much less expensive since these custom inserts are manufactured based on your foot’s shape and where most of your weight lands on it. These are usually made by a physical therapy clinic that specializes in sports medicine.
Several hundred years ago both athletes of the day and every regular Joe had to just suffer through Plantar Fasciitis. But no more, thanks to modern medical advancement! Seeking a medical opinion has, for many, offered a first successful step towards resolving an annoying and painful Plantar Fasciitis problem.
For more information about foot pain caused by Plantar Fasciitis along with treatment options please call 416-800-0800 or visit www.aesm.ca