Your feet’s shocks are worn
That’s the crux of plantar fasciitis—said like this: fashee-EYE-tiss. There’s a thick band of tissue that runs along the sole of your foot called the plantar fascia; it connects your heel to your toes, supports the arch of your foot, and helps serve as a shock-absorber for the steps you take. Extra strain or pressure on your feet can create irritate the tissue and create small tears, leading to inflammation and resulting in heel pain.
It feels like you’re getting stabbed in the foot, first thing in the morning
This one is far from “silent,” but pretty specific to plantar fasciitis. The pain is usually the worst after you get out of bed and take your first few steps. The knife-in-your-heel feeling eases up after a few minutes of walking, but could make a comeback if you’re on your feet for an extended period of time, or when you get up after a long stretch of sitting. Pain that’s more in the back of your heel could be Achilles tendinitis; on the inside of your ankle and the bottom of your foot could be a nerve problem (such as tarsal tunnel syndrome). Check out podiatrists' top solutions for the most common foot problems.
Extra pounds = more stress on your feet, so it stands to reason that your risk is higher. Your age factors in as well—plantar fasciitis is most common between 40 and 60; women also have a higher chance of developing it than men. Did you know your feet could reveal these surprising diseases?
Your feet are shaped funny…
Flat-footed soles, for example, are more prone to heel pain; so are high-arched feet. Even having an abnormal walking pattern—say, your foot rolls inward too much when you walk—can shift your weight in a way that puts extra stress on the plantar fascia. And a little further up, your calf impacts your risk as well. If the muscle is tight, it may limit how far you can flex your foot up toward your shin. So when you walk, the tissue on the bottom of your foot can over-stretch, causing it to tear or pull away from the bone.
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And you stand on them all day
Teachers, factory workers, mail carriers, hairdressers and others who spend most of their working hours on their feet means more wear and tear, therefore a higher risk of damage.
You live in flip flops
Those ballet slippers you switch to when it’s chillier out are no better—especially if you can fold them in half. As cute as they may be, these shoes don’t offer the support your feet need. Your best bet: a shoe with a low to moderate heel, good arch support and cushioning to help absorb shock. These surprising shoe mistakes could be killing your feet.
You're a runner
This kind of exercise puts of a lot of stress on your heel, and the attached bone, especially if you run on hard surfaces, like concrete. Other activities, such as zumba or even walking for long distances, can contribute to your chance of developing plantar fasciitis. Lower-impact exercises, such as swimming or bicycling, can ease heel pain. And make sure your sneakers are in shape so they offer proper support. For runners and walkers, athletic shoes should be replaced after about 500 miles of use.