A deep dive into what plantar fasciitis is, what causes plantar fasciitis, how to treat it and how to ensure you never have to deal with it again!
Sometime back we briefly touched on this topic. So just for a quick recap let’s take a step back and define this condition.
Your plantar fascia is a connective tissue sheath that originates at the base of your heel and attaches to the base of your tarsals (toe bones). It acts like a bowstring that assists in the biomechanics of our feet. The primary purpose of the plantar fascia is to act as a shock absorber as your feet make contact with the ground. So essentially, the plantar fascia provides stability at the base of your feet during movement.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the connective tissue fibers of the fascia. The fascia may become irritated due to overuse or acute loading and cause damage to the connective tissue fibers resulting in a painful inflammatory response.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
This was the exact same question my brother asked me about a year ago. So I’ve decided to use my big brother Leon, as a case study on plantar fasciitis. Why? Well simply because his story dealing with plantar fasciitis perfectly covers every aspect of the condition that we would like to cover in this article.
In my brother’s case, he was quite active at the time getting in 5-6 workouts per week on average. He was on a weight loss journey trying to transform his entire lifestyle. And I am including this information to highlight two factors:
And it was these factors that led to him developing plantar fasciitis. The fact that he was so focused on his goal, he developed tunnel vision in all aspects of his training. Which led to him over-training and more specifically over training with training modalities he had not previously done for any prolonged period of time. Throw in the fact that he has been overweight for the majority of his life, he was basically a walking plantar fasciitis candidate just waiting to happen.
Case in point, because of his weight challenges he really struggled with jogging or running as a form of exercise. Fast forward three years into his journey, he starts experimenting with running. And he loves it! So he runs some more but his body has never had this type and level of loading placed upon itself. And before you know it, he starts getting severe plantar fasciitis symptoms.
Now let’s recap here, what exactly caused Leon’s condition? He didn’t manage his training load, he didn’t allow his body to progressively adapt to a training modality that was essentially foreign to him and he didn’t take into consideration his physical limitations. And if you take his story and summarize it, it really does cover the major causes of plantar fasciitis:
And if I can add one more aspect to this I would say listen to your body. You will not believe how many of my patients were and are like my brother. They are so strong willed, so focused on their goal that they completely ignore your body’s natural warning signs. So if you’re feeling a bit off your game please don’t discard it for everyday aches and pains, take some time and pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you!
Which leads us to our next segment:
How Can You Tell When You Have Plantar Fasciitis?
Now that we have discussed what causes plantar fasciitis let’s go ahead and cover the signs and symptoms of the condition. Because it is all good and well we urge you to listen to your body, but how do you discern what exactly you’re listening for?
Signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis:
So what do you do now?
You have plantar fasciitis, what do you do now? Well for my brother Leon we had a very pragmatic approach. Who looked at the factors we could control and implemented a strategy to mitigate the risks while addressing the condition. Now that may sound very clinical but again, because of the nature of the beast I decided to give the condition the necessary respect in order to ensure Leon doesn’t need to suffer from this condition in future. So are the tips I gave him along with a detailed rehab and prehab program (which we will cover in part 2 of this article).
These are more broad tips covering a macro perspective of the condition. In our next article we will cover the rehab and prehab strategies a little more in detail!
Just to recap…
Your plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue at the base of your foot that provides stability and shock absorption during movement. Overloading of this tissue can lead to irritation that may cause structural damage to the fibers resulting in a chronic inflammatory condition. People who overtrain, are overweight or incorporate a drastic increase in training load are at significant risk for this condition. Plantar fasciitis is characterized by a localized pain at the base of the heel that may radiate along the bottom of your foot. Pain is experienced upon waking and dissipates as the day progresses as you become more active. Pain is also felt before and after activity but very seldom during activity.