Understanding the Foot Structure

To answer the question what is plantar fasciitis, let’s understand the structure of the foot. In the sole of your foot you have a tendon called the plantar fascia. This tendon runs from your heal and spreads out to connect each toe bone. The plantar fascia is tight and helps provide support for the arch of the foot. Though not very flexible, the plantar fascia stretches slightly to allow the arch to flatten and absorb the impact when your heel hits the ground.

tendon: a flexible but inelastic cord of strong fibrous collagen tissue attaching a  muscle to a bone.

What is Plantar Fasciitis

foot xray show heel spur usually the result of plantar fasciitis

foot x-ray heel spur

When the plantar fascia repeatedly over stretches it can cause tiny tears in the tendon. These tiny tears eventually can result in inflammation and swelling and this is when it can become painful and noticeable. Before this it could be strains to the plantar fascia that would be less noticeable, but over time the strains can result in tiny tears.

To make it even worse, heal spurs can occur where there is inflammation near the heal bone and the tear in the plantar fascia. Heal spurs are deposits of calcium on the bone that are usually sharp. These will further irritate the plantar fascia with each step. There are several natural ways to help pain and healing but one way to reduce the pain is to wear supportive padded shoes, like what you will find in our shoe lists.

Shoes can be the cause of plantar fasciitis but they can also be the pain relief and healing for plantar fasciitis. Don’t let your poor shoes cause you to develop plantar fasciitis, see our list of recommended shoes for plantar fasciitis.

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

If you have plantar fasciitis you will feel a sharp stabbing pain in the heel that might radiate toward the arch of the foot. In the morning this pain will be worse. At night your foot will start the healing process while in a contracted position. When you step down in the morning it will stretch the tendon and pull on what was starting to heal (There his help to relieve this pain in the morning by using a night splint).

Image Credit: “Bruises Blisters…….Brains?” by Bailey Weaver is licensed under CC 2.0
Heel Spur” by Northcoast Footcare is licensed under CC 2.0