The "plantar fascia" is medical term for the tissue along the arch of your foot, starting behind your toes and extending back to the heel. You have plantar fasciitis -- or an injured foot arch -- if that tissue is badly overstretched or partially or fully ruptured.
The cause of this condition is too much pressure exerted on the arches, and although common in athletes, the condition can happen because you went hiking or climbing, you were lifting heavy objects, or you simply walked too far too vigorously. Pregnancy places extra strain on the arches because of both the additional body weight and the effect of hormones on muscles and ligaments.
If the strain is severe enough, it can not only stretch but tear the plantar fascia. No matter what the cause of your problem, however, the end result is the same: foot pronation -- a temporary case of "flat feet" -- and pain.
The best treatment? Apply ice packs, followed by heat (to reduce inflammation), to the area for 20 minutes once a day. Rest is also essential. You will have to avoid any activity -- in some cases, even standing or walking -- that would increase the tear, until the tissue heals on its own (this can sometimes take up to six weeks).
With strains and less severe tears, you may be able to walk on the foot with arch-support shoe inserts. You'll need to see your doctor for more permanent arch support. A doctor can also provide immediate relief from the pain of plantar fasciitis by giving you a local cortisone injection or prescribing anti-inflammatory medication.
Once the plantar fascia is healed, prevent a repeat injury by:
choosing shoes, especially athletic shoes, that provide good arch and heel support.
avoiding activities you're not accustomed to that place a lot of stress on the foot.
- doing stretching exercises to strengthen the muscles and ligaments in your feet.
Whatever the injury, the best treatment is preventing the condition altogether. Continue to the next page for tips on how to avoid foot injuries in the first place.
To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit:
- Everyday Foot Problems: Discover causes of some of the most commonly encountered foot problems, as well as how to treat or avoid them.
- How to Care for Your Feet:
Learn how to keep your feet -- and yourself -- healthy and happy with
these tips on caring for your feet, including selecting the right