If you experience heel pain in the mornings when you first get out of bed, odds are you’ve got plantar fasciitis. Dr. Adejoke Babalola, the Podiatrist of Perfect Footcare in New York City. has extensive experience treating this painful condition and recommends a few simple techniques to help you jump out of bed without pain in no time.

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What is plantar fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is the band of tissue, or ligament, which runs along the bottom of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the toes. The tissue is stretched tightly from one end of the foot to the other to support the arch of the foot. When this ligament is irritated or strained, slight tears in the plantar fascia form and the tissue becomes inflamed, which is what causes the stabbing pain in the heels or the arch of the foot, especially in the morning when you first get out of bed.

How is plantar fasciitis caused?

While there’s no one cause for the condition, several factors put some people more at risk than others, including:

  • High arches or flat feet
  • Age — this ligament, like many others, weakens with age
  • Obesity
  • Activities that stress the tissue (think long-distance running or jumping exercises)
  • Standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time
  • Feet that roll inward when walking
  • Tight calf muscles or Achilles tendon

How is plantar fasciitis treated?

The first order of business is determining whether the problem is plantar fasciitis and Dr. Babalola performs several diagnostic tests to rule out other issues, such as arthritis or a stress fracture. Typically, Dr. Babalola:

  • Watches the way you walk
  • Gathers activity history
  • Discusses symptoms
  • Orders an X-ray or MRI

Once the plantar fasciitis diagnosis is made, Dr. Babalola recommends several ways to treat the painful condition, such as:

  • Stretching and strengthening physical therapy
  • Temporarily reducing activity that may irritate the ligament
  • Icing
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Orthotic shoes or inserts

It takes time for plantar fasciitis to resolve itself, so patience is key.

Can plantar fasciitis be prevented?

There are several ways to help prevent plantar fasciitis from occurring or returning:

  • Stretching exercises
  • Maintaining a good weight
  • Alternating activities to relieve the repetitive stress on the ligament
  • Proper arch support in your footwear

Dr. Babalola discusses the preventive measures you should take that are best suited to your situation and lifestyle.