The most common cause of heel pain is a medical condition called "Plantar Fasciitis". This is Latin for "inflammation of Plantar Fascia". The Plantar Fascia is the flat band of fibrous tissue under the foot that connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of your foot.
Due to factors such as weight-gain, age and incorrect foot function (ie. over-pronation) the plantar fascia are stretched out excessively with every step we take. Consequently, the ligament starts to pull away from its weakest point: i.e. where the fascia inserts into the heel bone (calcaneus).
This constant tension leads to micro-tearing of the tissue and inflammation at the attachment of the plantar fascia and heel bone, causing heel pain. During rest (e.g. when you're asleep or sitting), the plantar fascia tightens and shortens. When getting up body weight is rapidly applied to the foot and the fascia must stretch and quickly lengthen, causing micro-tearing in the fascia. Hence, the stabbing pain with your first steps in the morning or after sitting for a while.
Because of the continuous pulling of the fascia at the heel bone, the body eventually responds by developing a bony growth on the heel bone. This is called a Heel Spur or Calcaneal spur. The spur itself doesn't cause any pain, it's merely a symptom.
Over-stretching of the Plantar Fascia is more likely to happen if:
- You Suffer From Over-Pronation (Lowering Of The Arch When The Foot Lands)
- You Stand/Walk On Hard Surfaces For Long Periods (Because Of Your Job)
- You Have Put On Some Weight In Recent Months/Years Or You Are Pregnant
- The Muscles And Tendons In Your Feet And Legs Are Tight You Are Over 45