Plantar Fasciitis is an inflammatory condition of the plantar fascia located on the sole of the foot. This condition is the most common cause of heel pain and accounts for 10% of all running injuries. Although the condition is more prevalent among 40 to 60 year olds, it can occur in active people much younger. Pain is common in both feet.

Several risk factors have been associated with plantar fasciitis:
Intrinsic risk factors include:
   • excessive pronation or low arch height
   • high arch height

   Modifiable risk factors are:
   • overtraining
   • improper shoe wear
   • obesity
   • decreased strength
   • poor flexibility of the calf muscles
   • working on unyielding surfaces

Typically individuals report pain on the medial heel and that it worsens after rest, but improves after 10 to 15 minutes of activity. Typically individuals have excessive pain in the first few steps in the morning and may experience stiffness and muscle spasms in the lower leg with tightness in the Achilles tendon.

The best way to restore the Plantar is with a general fitness program which integrates specific foot exercises.

Stretching the calf complex will restore adequate muscle length and prevent compensatory pronation at the ankle. Self (myofascial) release techniques include rolling the foot over a baseball, golf ball or dumbbell, all of which may help break up (myofascial) adhesions in the plantar fascia.

Strengthening the muscles of the feet may help improve the arch stability and help to unload the stresses imposed across the plantar fascia. Towel crunches and marble pickup are two of the best exercises for this purpose.  Strengthening of the gastrocnemius, soleus, tibilialis anterior and tibialis posterior may help improve strength at the ankle.

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information resources: IDEA Health & Fitness Association and American Council on Exercise



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