From the weekend warrior to the competitive athlete, the rising participation of physical activity has led to a wide range of overuse syndromes such as heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. These are conditions in which the bottom of the heel is extremely painful. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the strong tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects the heel to the base of the toes. A heel spur is the abnormal pulling of this fascia which irritates the heel bone. The body lays down a heel spur as a protective mechanism.
Many people will ask themselves, ‘Why do my feet hurt in the morning when I step out of bed?’ These common overuse injuries are characterized by complaints of pain with the first few steps in the morning, some relief following activity, but returning after extended periods of standing or walking. Since it is difficult to rest the foot, this problem gradually worsens. With progression, pain may start interfering with daily activities.
Some potential causes include weak foot muscles, flat or high arches, poor shoe support, sudden increase in activity level or weight, and/or a tight Achilles tendon. Effective treatment will address decreasing pain and inflammation, restoring flexibility to the tight muscles surrounding the arch and the ankle; strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the foot; taping the foot to help decrease your pain by distributing force away from the stressed plantar fascia, and a gradual return to full activity.
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