Plantar fasciitis (pronounced “fashitis”) is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is the tissue under the foot used during walking and foot movement. This causes pain usually under the foot near the heel and can be in one or both feet. This is usually worse after prolonged periods of inactivity or after (not during) exercise.

Plantar fasciitis can be caused by a number of factors, including the shoes you wear, the structure of your foot, overuse and lack of stretching.

Most people recover in a few months with basic treatment like icing, stretching, improving footwear and resting. In severe cases, more help may be needed which could include physiotherapy, night splints, orthotics and even a walking boot.

But the good news is that most of us can cure this painful problem with a few simple tips, provided we dedicate ourselves to the task. Here’s how:

  1. Wake up your calf and achilles tendon by flexing and pointing your feet any time you stand up from prolonged sitting. This can be after watching TV, driving your car and particularly when you get out of bed in the morning (or during the night). Waking up your calf and achilles allows them to stretch, taking the strain off your fascia. Make it a habit.
  2. Use ice to reduce inflammation which causes pain. The easiest way to ice is to slowly roll your foot over a frozen bottle of water while at your desk or on the couch.
  3. Improve the flexibility of your calves, achilles tendon, hamstrings and glutes. You might think your glutes are a long way from your feet, which is true, but tight glutes lead to problems all down your legs. You want to be loose from your heel to your butt! Don’t try to stretch the fascia itself, stretch everything else. There are many youtube clips on stretches that help relieve plantar faciitis.
  4. Ditch the high heels. Of course you’ll want them for special occasions but for daily moving around, flat shoes are best and bare feet around the home. Some people find arch-support shoes or trainers help ease the pain.

In almost all cases it’s possible to heal yourself but, if you’ve employed all of the above religiously for 3 months with no results, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

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