Plantar Fasciitis Foot Injury : Athletic Injuries

Athletics injuries can arise from different types of sporting injuries, including track, cross-country or fell running, and can affect the muscles, tendons, bones, nerves and blood flow. Injuries are usually categorized as either macrotrauma or microtrauma, depending on if they occur suddenly with force or gradually over a period of time due to repetitive strain.

Plantar Fasciitis is a foot injury that occurs in athletics when the connective tissue (Plantar fascia) that runs from the heel bone (calcaneus) through the sole of the foot to the five toes, supporting the arch, becomes inflamed. Marathon runners and long-distance walkers often experience this painful condition.

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

If you feel pain in your heel or bottom of your foot when running or walking, and you have difficulty moving the foot or standing on it, then your plantar fascia may be inflamed or injured. In some cases, swelling and bruising is present. You can test this by stretching the foot or raising the toes, or trying to walk on your foot again after resting it for some time. Should pain in the heel persist, then you may have plantar fasciitis.

Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

High body mass index or being overweight, bearing heavy weights in work or weight lifting for exercise can cause pressure on the connective tissue in the heel. Other causes may be degenerative type conditions affecting mobility and the foot region, such as heel spur resulting from calcification of the bone. Wearing shoes that are not well supported for balance can also inflame the plantar fascia.

Young adolescents are at risk of incurring plantar fasciitis because their bodies are still developing and they also tend to be competitively active for longer periods. Poor nutrition, uneven ground surfaces, competing when fatigued or being unfit and overexerting are also recognized causes.

Medical Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis

If the pain in the heel is less severe, it can be self-treated through implementing PRICE: protecting the heel by stopping the current exercise causing inflammation in the plantar fascia; resting the foot; applying ice to the inflamed region; placing a compression on the foot to support the arch; and elevating the foot to reduce swelling and bruising. If pain and inflammation continue in the heel, then a clinical or physical examination should be performed by your local doctor or physiotherapist.

Your doctor may recommend pain relief medication or anti-inflammatory drugs. A referral may be made for a radiograph, diagnostic ultrasound and/or MRI of the foot to determine site and extent of injury. Other treatments, besides resting the foot from athletic activity, include: wearing night splints, massage or cold therapy, corticosteroid injections to reduce pain, and surgery in severe and recurrent cases.

Preventing Plantar Fasciitis

It is important to prevent onset of plantar fasciitis because, particularly in runners, it can cause gradual knee pain or trauma. Heel seats and arch supports (orthotics) are recommended for use in athletics to protect the foot from injury. Wearing supportive sports shoes, such as motion control running shoes, and adequately warming up the feet before competing aids prevention.

Physiotherapists and trained sports coaches can also teach athletes exercise regimens to stretch the calf muscles and plantar fascia to build strength in the feet. Not doing athletics when overtired, stressed or in ill-health is also advised. And most importantly, having good nutrition to aid healthy connective tissue development in the body and prevent excessively high body mass index can prevent plantar fasciitis.

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