Plantar Fasciitis (Heel Spurs)

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Injuries to the foot are very common in sports. They can seriously disrupt any athlete's training schedule and preparations. The foot is very complex with many bones, ligaments, joints and muscles always supporting full body weight. The foot is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, and 30 tendons. Deep tissue called "fascia" holds arches together and injury to this tissue can cause major disruptions to any athlete. Plantar Fasciitis is the most common heel injury in athletes, and runners in particular. It is a partial or complete tear of the arch ligament and the surrounding tissue on the bottom of the foot. The arch ligament serves as a rubber band to support the bottom of the foot. Jumping and repetitive pushing-off motion (running) can cause injury to this dense tissue.

  • Localized pain at the bottom of the foot near the heel, but not directly on the heel
  • Tenderness throughout the ball of the foot
  • Increasing pain with weight bearing
  • Worsening pain with the first steps of the morning. The pain usually decreases throughout the day and with use. That is a red flag because the injury is not gone although it will seem as though it has disappeared.
  • Apply ice to the bottom of the heel (10-30 minutes, frequently)
  • Massage area with ice
  • Elevate leg above the heart
  • If there is pain with weight bearing, use crutches
  • Rest is imperative
  • Physical therapy using ultrasound and various techniques
  • Avoid barefoot walking
  • Arch supports in shoes
  • Arch taping
  • Stretch foot (hang heel over a ledge or stairs)
  • Consistent icing
  • Rest
  • Strengthening exercises for foot (picking up objects like towels, small balls with toes)

Reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional.

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