Both the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon attach to the calcaneus or heel bone. The plantar fascia is on the bottom surface of the foot and the Achilles tendon runs down the back of the ankle. If the calf muscles, the soleus and gastrocnemius, are tight the stretch of the Achilles tendon is inhibited, which can put extra tension on the plantar fascia. Tight calf muscles are one of the many factors that can lead to painful plantar fasciitis. Whether you are a weekend warrior or a world-class athlete, you will want to learn how to treat and heal your plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis quickly.
In This Article
The longest, strongest tendon in the body is the Achilles tendon. This tendon connects the two calf muscles, the gastrocnemius, and the soleus, to the heel bone. The Achilles tendon makes it possible to walk, run, jump, and climb stairs. Other tendons connect the calf muscles to the inside and outside of the foot.
The primary ligaments of the foot include the following:
Achilles tendonitis and heel spurs
The Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone. Achilles tendonitis, or inflammation of the Achilles tendon, can result from a sudden increase in exercise, as an overuse injury in runners, or even in people who do not exercise at all. According to Mazzone et al., men over the age of 30 have the greatest risk.
Bone spurs, which are an overgrowth of bone, often form. These bone spurs rub against the Achilles tendon, causing heel pain.
People with Achilles tendonitis may experience the following symptoms:
The following are risk factors for Achilles tendonitis:
Injuries to ligaments and tendons are common. The following strategies may speed up the healing of Achilles tendonitis:
I’ve separated my shoulder and my collarbone; I’ve messed up my knee a million times. I’ve broken my foot in several places. I’ve broken my toe a bunch, broken my nose a couple of times, and had a bunch of other annoying little injuries, like turf toe and arthritis and tendonitis. It’s part of the game. — Ronda Rousey
The plantar fascia runs from the heel bone to the toes. With each step, the arch of the foot drops and recoils. The plantar fascia supports the foot arch and acts as a shock absorber with each step. According to Young et al. (2001), plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. The pain is usually caused by the degeneration of collagen due to repetitive microtears. Individuals with either low or high arches are predisposed to developing plantar fasciitis.
When this fascia becomes irritated or inflamed, stabbing pain right in front of the heel can result. This pain is generally worse in the morning and gradually decreases as you move around. The pain may return after long periods of standing or when you first stand up. Heel stiffness can make climbing stairs difficult. Sufferers of plantar fasciitis typically limp with their heel off the ground to decrease pain and tension on the fascia.
Factors which may increase your risk for plantar fasciitis include the following:
Plantar fasciitis and heel spurs
The plantar fascia may become torn or inflamed if too much pressure is put on it when running and jumping. Like Achilles tendinitis, overuse, tight calf muscles, and a sudden increase in activity can lead to inflammation. Bone spurs on the heel bone can result. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, one out of ten people have bone spurs, but only 5% have pain. Therefore the pain can be treated without removing the spur.
The following are suggested ways to treat plantar fasciitis.
According to Buchbinder, studies comparing methods for how to treat plantar fasciitis have demonstrated inconsistent results. Plantar fasciitis is considered to be a self-limiting condition. In more than 80% of patients, the symptoms will resolve within a year.
Most physical therapists do not feel that athletes need to stop participating in their sport while waiting for plantar fasciitis to heal. Substitution of lower impact sports may be recommended.
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.