The plantar fascia is a thick, flexible band of tissue that covers the bottom of the foot.
Normally the plantar fascia can deal with the demands of daily use, protected by the foot’s arch. When put under excessive stress – for example by flat feet, inadequate footwear or irregular walking patterns – small tears develop in the tissue. Over time this causes inflammation and irritation. A person is then said to be suffering from plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is common amongst athletes – particularly runners and ballet dancers. It also occurs in people who stand or walk for long periods of the day.
Stretching of the plantar fascia can also cause the associated condition known as heel spur, where calcium deposits build up under the heel bone leading to inflammation and pain.