What is it?
The ‘plantar fascia’ is a thick band of ligament along the bottom of your foot that connects your heel bone to the front. It supports the arch of your foot, helps you push off when walking or running, and acts as a shock absorber.
Plantar fasciitis is when the ‘plantar fascia’ becomes inflamed or degenerated, usually due to chronic overuse (walking or running more than your body is used to over long periods of time). You might have it if you are complaining of heel pain that is worse with standing/walking for long, and the worst pain with the first few steps of the morning.
Heel spurs, on the other hand, are when calcium gets abnormally deposited at the heel bone causing a bony protrusion. It can only be diagnosed by an X-ray. Treatment methods for plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are similar.
What can be done?
Understanding the causes of why the plantar fascia or heel pain is being aggravated is important in solving the problem (activity loading, muscle imbalances, pronated foot arch, inappropriate orthotic use, etc.). Soft tissue therapy and ESWT will often be used to improve fascial healing. Physiotherapy will improve the tensile strength of the fascia and surrounding muscles to reduce inflammation and to support the foot.
Can this be prevented?
Having a healthy and strong plantar fascia and muscles around the foot to support your foot arch can prevent this from happening. Understanding how well your body can load the foot is also important in prevention, and using appropriate shoes for your foot type will help.