Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis causes heel pain. It’s one of the most common inflammatory conditions in Quebec. It mainly affects adults who work on their feet and athletes who engage in repetitive movements, but anyone can suffer from it at some point. Learn how to detect the symptoms and treat it.

How do you recognize plantar fasciitis?

Foot pain, specifically heel pain, first occurs intermittently. Many describe it as an intense sensation of heat. It occurs in the morning and intensifies when standing and putting weight on the foot.

The pain tends to subside with movement, as the muscles warm up, and recur after periods of rest, for example, when you get up. People sometimes notice pain that extends to the plantar vault, which is the curved area of the sole of the foot.

Secondary symptoms such as pain in the Achilles tendon, a permanent burning sensation under the foot, or tingling throughout the sole of the foot are also possible.

Understanding plantar fasciitis: An anatomy lesson

What’s really going on in your foot when you experience intense, localized heel pain? First of all, know that the arch of your foot is supported by a fibrous ligament, a loose sheet of tissue that connects the heel to the forefoot. It is called the plantar fascia, or aponeurosis.

In a standing position, the plantar fascia is stretched to the maximum. Any action that creates an imbalance in foot mechanics and weight distribution can result in microtears:

  • Standing for a long time
  • Carrying heavy loads
  • Repetitive impacts (running)
  • Walking on uneven ground
  • Poor posture or being overweight

Plantar fasciitis: Risk factors and predispositions

Overuse of the plantar fascia is the main cause of plantar fasciitis. Many of us are therefore likely to develop plantar fasciitis at some point: people who enjoy walking, running or any other physical activity that involves a series of repeated movements (e.g., lunges, jumping jacks, etc.), as well as people who work standing for long periods of time.

Plantar fasciitis can also occur from wearing the wrong footwear such as sandals, shoes with excessively worn soles or shoes that are too soft. Walking on a hard or unstable surface can also cause inflammation that leads to the injury.

Some people have physical characteristics that predispose them to plantar fasciitis, including:

  • Rigid plantar arch (cavoid foot)
  • Overpronation (axis of the foot in relation to the leg)
  • Unstable ankles
  • Overweight
  • Decreased muscle flexibility
  • Plantar cushion thinning (with age)
  • Flat foot or cavoid foot
  • Pregnancy
  • Muscle and tendon stiffness in the ankle


How can you avoid plantar fasciitis?

Choosing the right footwear for your physical activity is a great way to prevent plantar fasciitis. You can also add insoles or heel pads to protect your feet and better absorb shock. The key is always to have good arch support.

Opt for smooth transitions in your workouts. Be aware that changes in your routine—taking on a new sport, upping the intensity or distance—could trigger symptoms. Be sure to take it easy and listen to your body.

Consider stretching to prevent plantar fasciitis or slow its progression. Stretching decreases muscle tension and strengthens the muscles of the foot. It’s a great part of a daily routine. If you don’t know where to start, check out this one-pager prepared by our orthotists on plantar fasciitis prevention and treatment exercises.


Who can help?

Orthotists are trained to determine whether plantar fasciitis is the source of your pain. They will conduct a biomechanical evaluation of the foot to identify the causes of inflammation and provide you with an individualized treatment plan tailored to your situation.

Seeing a specialist near you, like one of the orthotists at Médicus, is an excellent first step towards healing.


Treatment solutions

Fortunately, a variety of options are available to you if you believe you are suffering from plantar fasciitis.

From orthopedic shoes to foot orthotics, preventive tips, exercise and complementary care, it’s usually easy to find treatment that will help.

Foot orthotics

A heel-cushioned foot orthotic fits inside the shoe. It acts as a support and helps relieve symptoms by distributing pressure under the foot, supporting the arch and taking pressure off the heel. It helps control the foot in the three phases of the gait cycle: weight acceptance, support and swing.

Foot orthotics are custom made, meaning they are moulded to your foot, using the best methods in the industry. They play an undeniable role in the treatment of plantar fasciitis. Learn more about foot orthotics.

Orthopedic shoes

The orthopedic shoe market has come a long way. There’s something for all tastes and styles.

Adapted footwear that is tailored to the anatomy of the foot and provides proper support is recommended. Things to look for are a thick outsole, an approximately one-inch (2.5 cm) heel and a heel cushion. More details on the benefits of orthopedic footwear

Prevention, exercise and complementary care

You will avoid a lot of trouble by following the tips outlined above (adapted footwear, smooth transitions and stretching). To learn more about preventing plantar fasciitis and other foot pain, see Preventing foot pain.

Foot baths and ice application are complementary treatments that can also reduce the pain caused by plantar fasciitis.

At Médicus, an orthotist will guide you to the best options for effective recovery. Request a consultation to have your condition assessed or see our orthopedic shoes.