Plantar Fasciitis: Definition and What it is
Medically and clinically reviewed by Jonathan Lee, MD and Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Plantar Fasciitis Definition and Meaning
Plantar fasciitis is the irritation or inflammation of the plantar fascia, a strong band of tissue on the bottom of the foot that connects the heel to the front of the foot and supports the arch. It’s the most common cause of heel pain and afflicts more than 2 million people in the U.S. each year, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms
People with plantar fasciitis typically experience a sharp pain in the bottom of the foot near the heel. The pain is often more noticeable first thing in the morning or after activity, although it can also be triggered by long periods of standing or sitting. The pain often improves after a few minutes of walking as the tissue warms up.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment
The vast majority of people with plantar fasciitis feel better with simple treatment methods. Staying active is important to recovery. Being sedentary will only cause the plantar fascia to become less tolerant to daily activities, so if certain movements or exercises cause too much pain, you might need to find gentler alternatives during recovery. Stretching, over-the-counter medication, physical therapy, and some lifestyle adjustments (like wearing a silicone heel pad or taping the foot arch) can also support healing.
Plantar Fasciitis: A Hinge Health Perspective
Your plantar fascia is a strong, thick, tendon-like structure that runs along the arch (bottom side) of your foot from your toes to your heel. It helps absorb the stress of daily life, whether you’re walking to work or playing a high-impact tennis game. Normally, your feet can handle a lot of stress from a variety of activities. Sometimes, though, it’s a little too much and you experience foot pain. The good news: There’s a lot you can do to ease the pain and start feeling better.
While weight-bearing movements may feel scary or uncomfortable at first, they’re key to your recovery. When you do exercises that are designed to strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support the foot, you’re actually setting yourself up for less pain and lower risk of plantar fasciitis in the future.
How Physical Therapy Can Help With Plantar Fasciitis
A physical therapist (PT) can create an exercise program to help you stretch and strengthen your calf muscles and plantar fascia. PTs may prescribe plantar fasciitis exercises focusing on stretching the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles, which can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation while improving foot strength and flexibility. You can see a physical therapist in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via telehealth/video visit.
How Hinge Health Can Help You
If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.
The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.
Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition.
Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.
This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.
Trojian, T., & Tucker, A. K. (2019). Plantar Fasciitis. American Family Physician, 99(12), 744–750.
Buchbinder, R. (2022, November). Plantar Fasciitis. UptoDate. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/plantar-fasciitis
Perri, M. J., Beahrs, T., & Kadakia, A. R. (2022, August). Plantar Fasciitis and Bone Spurs. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/plantar-fasciitis-and-bone-spurs