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Possible cause: Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the thick band of fascia that runs from the heel bone to the toes. It can be caused by a one-time event in which you overload the tissue, such as walking for miles on vacation in new shoes. Or it can develop over a longer period in response to posture or mobility issues in the feet, says biomechanist Katy Bowman, MS, author of Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief.

“Plantar fasciitis is biomechanical in origin,” Robert Kornfeld, DPM, a holistic podiatrist at the Chronic Foot Pain Center in New York City explains. “One typical cause comes from the calf muscle being overly tight in compensation for hypermobility in the forefoot. The tighter the calf muscle gets, the greater the pull and stress on the plantar fascia, which can injure cells and cause them to become chronically inflamed.” Small tears may also develop in the plantar fascia, adding to pain and inflammation.

The antidote, says Bowman, is mobilizing and stretching the foot. “You’ve got this stiff, tense wad of injured tissue, and you want to stretch and smooth it out like a ball of dough.” She suggests using targeted stretches and rolling the foot out on a ball. “These are ways of waking up this tissue that’s clumped to protect itself.”

Other strategies include getting a biomechanical evaluation to help identify problematic gait and posture habits, changing your footwear, and trying acupuncture.

While some may benefit from taping or using an orthotic or brace, Bowman stresses the importance of identifying the underlying cause. “You want to get your foot working better for you without all that gear, or else you’re not really getting to the root of the problem.”

As the literal foundation of our bodies, our feet are crucial to keeping us active and healthy. See “What Your Feet Are Trying to Tell You,” from which this article was excerpted, for more common foot issues and steps to relieving them.

Mo Perry

Mo Perry is an Experience Life contributing editor.

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  1. Plantar fasciitis happens when the band of tissue on the bottom of your foot gets irritated and inflamed. This can be due to tight calf muscles or how you walk. Stretching and improving foot movement can help, along with changing your shoes or trying acupuncture. It’s important to address the main problem to find lasting relief.

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