Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain that we see and it is espcially prevalent in athletes.
The plantar fascia is a thick band of strong connective tissue (a bit like a liagament) that connects and stretches from heel to toes.
The plantar fascia serves as both a means of protection and support to the arch of your foot. A simple metaphor would be a structure organised like a bowstring that is designed to attenuate and absorb shock.
The basic underlying principal would be that if the tension in the bowstring becomes too extensive and repetitive (e.g. long distance running), small tears develop that lead to inflammation and irritation.
Often there can be no apparent reason. Some examples of aetiology are however a sudden change in running surfaces (e.g. road instead of track), or poor arch support and cushioning in your trainers or tight Achilles tendons (this affects the ability of your foot to flex).
The degree and severity of symptoms varies among individuals and depends on certain factors, such as how long the condition has been present and the possible underlying cause.
Typically the most common symptoms are a gradual development of heel pain that is worse in the mornings.
Stretching the foot would also typically be very painful. The plantar fascia is relatively slow to heal and may take several months although treatments can speed up the recovery time.
The foot needs rest from strenuous activities and needs shoes with adequate support.
Treatments involving the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories can also help, as can stretching.