My heel hurts, does this mean I have a heel spur?
The foot is designed with a large ligament called the Plantar Fascia that attaches from the bottom of your heel bone and fans out to your forefoot. A heel spur is a secondary result of chronic small tears to the attachment of this ligament on your heel bone. It is possible to have many small tears over your lifetime, stimulating a heel spur to grow, and you would never know about it. What typically causes actual heel pain is the tearing of this plantar fascia ligament itself, not the spur. However, it is possible to have problems with both the fascia and a spur. It is important to seek the help of a physician to clearly identify the problem.
My heel used to only hurt when I first stepped down in the morning and got better the more I walked. Now the heel hurts all the time and gets worse as the day goes on, why is that?
Initial pain upon first stepping down on your foot in the morning, or upon first getting up from sitting during the day is a typical symptom of plantar fasciitis. However, as the condition goes untreated, other tendons and ligaments become affected and involved as well. One tendon that commonly gets overlooked is the Posterior Tibial Tendon, whose function is to hold up the arch of your foot. If you are having persistent heel pain throughout the day, it is very important not to ignore these symptom changes and see your podiatrist.
My doctor told me the best way to treat Plantar Fasciitis is stretching my calf muscles. What do my calves have to do with this?!
When we walk, the natural progression of the step involves the heel hitting the ground, followed by the rest of our foot, and ending by pushing off with our big toe. This normal step progression allows your body to be propelled forward into the next step using both your calf muscles and the plantar fascia ligament on the bottom of your foot. If your calf muscles are tight, your heel is unable to come all the way down to meet the ground, causing your foot to land flat on its heel and midfoot. This kind of strike leads to your calf muscles doing hardly any work and all the stretch needed to propel your next step forward comes from only that plantar fascia ligament on the bottom of your foot. Overstretching and overworking this ligament is the cause of inflammation and pain.