Plantar Fasciitis – What is it and What Causes it?

Before we delve into the causes and corrections of Plantar Fasciitis, we first must have a general understanding of where it occurs as it pertains to the anatomy of the foot

Three arches called the transverse, medial and longitudinal make up the structure of the foot with the arches themselves being comprised of 26 individual bones. The toes contain nearly half of the total amount of bones at 14 – three for each toe except for the big one, which only gets two. It is because of this triple arch arrangement that we can negotiate varying terrains with relative ease.

The arch that we are concerned with is the medial longitudinal arch which runs along the inside of the foot. Along this arch is a wide, thick ligament which runs from the heel to the balls of the feet before ending at the toes. This is the plantar fascia and when it is subjected to above average amount of strain it begins to over-stretch and tear. Now unfortunately when we rest for long periods of time such as sleeping, our body attempts to heal itself and lays down scar tissue. This doesn’t pose much of a problem until rising and we find ourselves in pain as this newly formed scar tissue tears. Hence the notion that with Plantar Fasciitis, the first step is the worst.

There are two main methods for the plantar fascia to undergo an increase in tension. One situation that increases tension is weight gain. This may be due to inactivity, an increase in caloric intake, or pregnancy. The weight gain puts more strain on the bottom of the foot causing a stretch of the medial longitudinal arch. This results in over-stretching of the plantar fascia, leading to plantar fasciitis.

The second situation which could cause Plantar Fasciitis is having an improper walking gait or foot biomechanics. Normally when we walk, the majority of the weight is transferred from the outside of the heel to the outside of the foot. However with improper mechanics, the weight is transferred to the inside of the foot causing the plantar fascia to overstretch and tear once again.

The main problem that has been found with foot biomechanics is what is called an overpronation syndrome. Overpronation is when walking, we roll over too much on the inside of the foot. Doing so puts excessive strain on the above mentioned medial longitudinal arch and the tearing of the plantar fascia begins.

To treat plantar fasciitis, it is best to decrease the weight gained if possible. If not, rolling a golf ball lightly under the foot will help to strip down the scar tissue. It is important to not press too hard on the golf ball in order to avoid bruising the foot. Having the foot adjusted by your chiropractic professional often helps with the symptoms as well.

When visiting your chiropractic professional, they may adjust your heel forward which may relieve tension in the plantar fascia and lessen the symptoms. If you are finding that the above mentioned treatments are not working, it may be possible that you will require custom fitted insoles which support your feet and ensure a proper walking gait.