Anatomy of Plantar Fasciitis

Risk

  • Certain sports. Activities that place a lot of stress on the heel bone and attached tissue, i.e. running, dance and aerobics.
  • Flat-footed or high arches. People with flat feet may have reduced shock absorption, increasing strain on the plantar fascia. High arched feet have tighter plantar tissue, leading to similar effects.
  • Middle-aged or older. Heel pain tends to be more common with ageing as muscles supporting the arch of the foot become weaker, putting stress on the plantar fascia.
  • Overweight. Weight places a greater mechanical load on the plantar fascia. There is evidence that overweight and inactivity lead to chemical damage to the plantar fascia, with a worsening of pain.
  • Pregnancy. Weight gain, swelling and hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy may lead to mechanical overload of the plantar fascia.
  • Being on your feet. People with occupations that require a lot of walking or standing on hard surfaces may suffer plantar fascia pain.
  • Wearing shoes with poor arch support or stiff soles. Poorly designed shoes may contribute to problems.

Prevention

  • Maintaining a healthy weight to minimise the stress on the plantar fascia.
  • Choosing supportive shoes. Avoiding stiletto heels and shoes with excessively low heels. Buying shoes with a low to moderate heel, good arch support and absorption. Not going barefoot, especially on hard surfaces.
  • Not wearing worn-out runners. Replacing old runners before they stop supporting and cushioning the feet. If a sport involves a lot of running, replacing shoes after about 650 kilometres of use.
  • Starting activity slowly. Warming up before starting any activity or sport, and starting a new exercise program slowly.
  • Undertaking training prior to competition to ensure readiness to play.
  • Allowing adequate recovery time between workouts or training sessions.
  • Checking the sporting environment for hazards.
  • Drinking water before, during and after play.
  • Avoiding activities that cause pain.