Plantar fasciitis

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is the thickening of the plantar fascia, the band of tissue that runs under the foot. It’s often the main cause of heel pain.

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Understanding plantar fasciitis

Heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis may cause:
• Intense pain when placing weight on the heel

• Heel pain to be worse in the morning

• A limp or abnormal walking style to avoid pain

• The heel area to become inflamed

The plantar fascia is a tissue band that runs under the sole of the foot. Its tough structure helps to cushion the impact of walking, running and daily life, but it can become damaged over time or through injury. When damage occurs it can cause tiny tears to appear in the interior of the tissue, causing it to thicken (also called plantar fasciitis). This then causes it to be painful.

Heel pain is very common, particularly in those who do high-impact sports such as jogging or sprinting. It’s also more common in people who are 40 years of age or over. Treatment usually involves a combination of techniques and can take up to 12 months to heal. The methods to help with recovery are:

• Plenty of rest – avoid putting weight on the area for long periods of time

• Stretching – gentle stretch exercises that involve calf muscles and the heel can help relieve pain

• Wearing the right footwear – properly fitting shoes that cushion the heel are essential

Pain relief such as ibuprofen can help, or use an ice pack wrapped in a towel to help soothe the pain

Supports – strapping or supports are a good temporary measure

See your GP or podiatrist if:

• Your pain is persistent and doesn’t go away after a few weeks

• You experience a tingling or numbness in the foot

• Your foot feels hot and you have a fever

• Your heel is inflamed and stiff

Heel pain can be avoided - here are some tips:
• Maintain a healthy weight – being overweight can put a strain on the heel, causing pain

• Invest in good shoes – wear shoes that support and cushion the foot. Ideally, they should have a slight heel to help take the pressure off the heel and arches

• Replace sports shoes regularly – particularly if you participate in activities that place additional strain on the feet, such as running

• Listen to your body – if you experience heel pain whilst exercising, rest until your foot feels better before continuing with the same routine. Also, make sure to stretch after exercise

• Don’t walk on hard ground barefoot

Ask your local Boots Pharmacy team for further advice on products which may be suitable.

Foot care 101

Frequently asked questions

Plantar fasciitis can indeed go away with proper treatment and care. However, the duration of recovery may vary depending on the individual and the severity of the condition.

When dealing with plantar fasciitis, there are certain activities and behaviours that should be avoided to prevent further aggravation of the condition. Here are some things you should not do:

Avoid high-impact activities
: Activities that put excessive stress on the feet, such as running or jumping, should be avoided as they can worsen the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Try exercises that do not put pressure on your feet instead, such as swimming.

Don't ignore pain
: Ignoring the pain and continuing with activities that cause discomfort can lead to further damage and delay the healing process. It is important to listen to your body and give it the rest it needs.

Avoid going barefoot
: Walking or standing barefoot can strain the plantar fascia. It is recommended to wear supportive shoes or use orthotic inserts to provide cushioning and arch support.

Don't wear worn-out shoes: Worn-out shoes lack proper support and cushioning, which can exacerbate plantar fasciitis symptoms. Replace old shoes with new ones that provide adequate arch support and shock absorption.

Avoid excessive stretching: While stretching exercises can be beneficial for plantar fasciitis, overstretching or performing incorrect stretching techniques can worsen the condition. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or physical therapist for appropriate stretching exercises.

While it is generally okay to walk with plantar fasciitis, it is important to listen to your body and manage your activity level based on the severity of your symptoms. 

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Page last reviewed by Boots Pharmacy team on 26/03/2024