The Runner’s heel is a condition that is the bane of every runner’s existence. Another name for the runner’s heel is ‘Plantar Fasciitis’.
While this is a condition that is known to affect obese people and hardcore runners, Plantar Fasciitis can affect any runner at any time. Understanding the condition needs a little background information about the anatomy of the human foot.
UNDERSTANDING THE PLANTAR FASCIA
A flat band of tissue joins the heel bone to the toes. This band of tissue is called the Plantar Fascia. ‘Itis’ is a suffix which means pain and inflammation. That’s why the painful inflammation of the Plantar Fascia is known as Plantar Fasciitis.
The Plantar Fascia is the ligament that supports the arch of your foot. To understand why people suffer from Plantar Fasciitis, it is important to understand how this ligament can get affected in our daily life.
CAUSES OF PLANTAR FASCIITIS
During normal conditions, you will find that the Plantar Fascia act like shock absorbers. There is however just so much that any muscle, ligament or tendon can take. If the amount of stress that is put on the Plantar Fascia increases, it correspondingly means that the Plantar Fascia is getting weaker and weaker.
This repeated shock absorption causes the Fascia to get irritated and inflamed. The result of inflammation is pain. This is the base cause of why Plantar Fasciitis occurs.
Let’s look at why some people have a high risk to develop this condition.
Certain exercises put undue stress on the Plantar Fascia. One such exercise is running. Other sports/ exercises include Ballet and dance aerobics. While these exercises are not always the cause of the condition, it is seen more commonly in such people when compared to the general population.
You may wonder why age is a factor that should be considered. As we grow old, our body ages. This means that the Plantar Fascia ages with our body. Plantar Fasciitis is commonly found in people between the age of 40 and 60. This is the transitioning point for most people. It is the so called ‘middle age’ in a person’s life.
While some people in their 40’s may be slowing their activity levels down, many people in this age group are still very active. The combined effect of aging and exercise is possibly why there is a higher incidence of Plantar Fasciitis in this age group.
Obesity also plays an important role in the development of Runner’s foot. This is because the Plantar Fascia of such a person has to be able to support the increase in weight and it isn’t designed to do that. Plantar fascia functional well when a person has a normal body weight. As the person’s weight increases, the stress on the Plantar Fascia correspondingly increases. This means that there will come a point when the Plantar Fascia won’t be able to take the load anymore. This is when the person develops Plantar Fasciitis.
As you can see, there is no specific cause for the development of Plantar Fasciitis. There are however a certain number of risks that can make a person more vulnerable. The more number of risks that you have, the higher is your chance of developing Plantar Fasciitis.