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Plantar Fasciitis - The Literal Pain in Your Heel

December 1, 2022

You don’t have to live with that pain in your foot! The stabbing pain you feel in your heel when you first get out of bed that seems to work itself out throughout the day - only to come back the next morning or even sooner could be plantar fasciitis. With the right resources, you can kick pain to the curb before you even take your first steps each morning. 

First, what is Plantar Fasciitis?

The thick band of connective tissue that runs from the back of your heel into your four toes is called your plantar fascia. This supports the arch of the foot when you land while taking steps throughout the day, ensuring your body has good integrity starting at the heel all the way up to your hip. 

Due to increased loads, increase in walking, running, or standing, poor or worn out footwear, or unknown and spontaneous changes in tissues as we age, the facia can get inflamed or develop microtears. This causes pain and is what we know as plantar fasciitis. 



Why is plantar fasciitis pain more intense in the morning? 

When we sleep at night our foot is typically in a plantar flex (a ballerina point position). When in this position for a prolonged period of time, the fascia becomes tight which can cause pain when being stood on. 

After walking or standing on the affected foot, it may loosen up on its own. However, pain can come back after sitting down and standing back up or after prolonged periods of standing. This is why we recommend daily stretches. 

How can you decrease your pain? 

There are two stretches our physical therapy team suggests doing in the morning to help loosen up your plantar fascia, lessening or eliminating pain throughout the day. 

Stretch #1: Before even getting out of bed, take the heel of the hurting foot and rest it on your opposite knee. With your hand, cup the ankle and lock it with your toes flexed toward the knee. Grab your big toe with your other hand and pull backwards towards your trunk. You should feel a stretch along that fascia, hold this for 5 seconds. Repeat this about 20 times for the tissues to loosen. 


Stretch #2: Stand next to a wall and place the affected foot against it with your toes running high up the wall, then lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in the heel throughout the arch of the foot and in the calve. Hold this for 30-45 seconds for a nice prolonged stretch. 

If it tightens up again throughout the day, repeat these stretches to help loosen up the tissues and decrease irritation or pain.  

Can plantar fasciitis cause larger issues? 

If something is tight in part of your foot, things often can become affected throughout the upper leg, calf, and into the knee causing greater pain and can hinder your regular daily activities. 

What are some additional resources? 

If these stretches don’t fix your pain and you are having trouble keeping up with your normal routine, working with a physical therapist on flexibility and strengthening the foot muscles and legs can help get you back to your full range of living. Orthopaedic Associates also offers custom heat molded orthotics which offer a custom fit support in your shoe to promote pain free walking. 

In extreme cases where pain is not subsiding, Orthopaedic Associates has two excellent foot surgeons, Dr. Ryan Reinking and Dr. Katherine Schnell, who are both able to provide additional options including injections or surgery. 

If you are interested in learning more about plantar fasciitis treatment and hearing from Dr. Katherine Schnell and physical therapist Ann Farley, join us on Thursday, October 27 at 6:00 pm for a discussion. The event will be held at Tortoise and Hare Footware in Duluth. RSVP to Ann at Ann@tortoiseandharefootwear.com or call 218-428-5178. 

If you cannot make the event but want to speak to a member of our team about plantar fasciitis, fill out our contact form here or call 218-722-5513 to set up a consultation.