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The Most Common Cause Of Plantar Fasciitis Is...

Updated on February 6, 2011

Plantar fasciitis affects something like 2,000,000 Americans every single year. Naturally, these folks want to know why they developed this painful condition. While there are a number of different factors that can cause PF, the most common one is actually quite simple. It's known in podiatry circles as mechanical overload. In this article, we'll look at what exactly mechanical overload is and how it creates problems in the plantar fascia. Of course, this knowledge isn't much use to the 2,000,000 men and women with PF if it doesn't lead to some solutions. As you read the following paragraphs, consider how you can use this new information to prevent or even cure plantar fasciitis.

Mechanical overload is really about as simple as it sounds.  The feet are put under a ton of stress and pressure every single day.  If they get pushed too hard, something has to give.  What gives is usually the plantar fascia - that delicate tissue running the length of the bottom of your foot.  Overloading the feet causes tearing in this tissue.  When the plantar fascia is torn, you have plantar fasciitis.  Now, there are essentially three things that lead to this mechanical overload.

Biomechanical Faults

Every single human being's body is unique. The feet are no different. Obviously, our feet are different lengths and widths but there are more subtle differences as well. Some of us have high arches while others have flat feet. The amount and thickness of fat on the plantar pad also varies greatly from person to person. A person with less fat protecting their plantar fascia is more susceptible to certain foot issues.

There are also mechanical issues to consider as like walking gait and the level of pronation that your step sees. How you walk and the angle at which your foot hits the ground when you step is often related to foot health. This is where products like orthotics and heel cups come into play. They allow you to change the profile of your foot in order to lessen the blow your plantar fascia takes with each step.

Obesity Or A High BMI


Mechanical overload can also be caused by high body mass index. This makes perfect sense if you think about it. Heavier people's feet have to work extra hard to support the weight above. Those tears in the plantar fascia and subsequent inflammation and pain come sooner for obese people. The saddest part about this is the fact that plantar fasciitis prevents people from participating in high impact sports like running and jogging. Some of the most effective weight loss activities are tough on the feet. If you're having to deal with this pickle, consider a low impact activity like swimming. It will allow your foot pain to subside while you still lose weight.

For the same reasons, pregnant women also deal with PF on a regular basis.

Work And Lifestyle Habits


The final cause of mechanical overload we're going to discuss is related to work habits. Men and women who spend more time on their feet are more likely to develop PF. This is why you see special "medical" shoes designed for nurses. These hard working employees often do 12 hour shifts - sometimes without any sit-down time! If you're a mail sorter, a cashier, a bank teller or a nurse, make sure you wear appropriate footwear. It's also imperative that you allow your feet to rest during the day. You may be OK with standing but understand that this isn't relaxing for your feet. If you're standing up, your feet are working. Give them a break by sitting down.

Sort out the mechanical overload on your feet and you'll sort out your PF. Good luck.

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