Symptoms usually start gradually at the bottom of the heel, but can extend up towards the front of the foot. Pain ranges from uncomfortable to extremely painful with it occurs long-term. Why does this happen?
Damage occurs from repetitive over-stretching of the plantar fascia, which forms a thick band leading from the achilles to the front of the foot. Usually the weakest part of this band is right under the heel, where part of it attaches. The effect of overuse, is kind of like pulling your hair over and over again; the site of attachment usually becomes inflamed when this is done.
It more commonly occurs with activities like dancing and running, but can also occur from jobs that involve a lot of walking and standing. Other factors such as flat feet, being overweight, and having tight calf muscles can also lead to injury.
Everyone always asks for a simple solution to plantar fasciitis. If it is short-term discomfort, simple rest from the offending activity and ice application can be a very useful. If plantar fasciitis has lasted for months, consultation by a professional is important. Your therapist may recommend stretches for tight muscles, or strengthening for weak muscles around the plantar fascia. Orthotic prescription can help with correcting any poor mechanics of your foot, which may contribute to stress on the plantar fascia.
Most importantly, managing the use of your feet and your activities is paramount! If you know you will be walking a lot on a vacation, take a few weeks before to gradually walk the same amount you would on your vacation. Or if you are starting to jog; initially run just around the block, and gradually add distance until the desired amount. Avoiding plantar fasciitis before you develop it, is easier than treating it later.