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7 Silent Signs of Plantar Fasciitis

No matter how badly you mispronounce it, plantar fasciitis is still likely to blame for your heel pain.

close up on feet of person walking awayiStock/Vladdeep

Your feet’s shocks get worn out

That’s the crux of plantar fasciitis—pronounced fashee-EYE-tiss. The ligament that runs along the bottom of your foot (called the plantar fascia) and connects from your toes to your heel, supports the arch of your foot and helps absorb the shock as you walk, jog, or run. The condition, plantar fasciitis, involves a strain to this ligament from overuse, says Paul Greenberg, DPM, a foot and ankle specialist at NYU Langone in New York City. “It’s probably the most common condition that any foot specialist sees,” he says. “Most of the time, symptoms occur where the ligament attaches to the heel.” In other words, you’ll likely first notice it as discomfort in bottom of the foot, back by the heel.

close up of person rubbing their footiStock/paisan191

You feel a sharp pain first thing in the morning

This one is far from “silent,” but pretty specific to plantar fasciitis. The pain is usually the worst after you get out of bed and take your first few steps—or after you’ve been sitting for hours and finally get up to move around, says Greenberg. Dubbed post-static dyskinesia, you’ll feel more discomfort after periods of rest because of an uptick of inflammatory cells settling in that area. It should feel better with low-key activity, but sometimes the pain can stick around. If that’s the case, the first line of treatment is usually stretching and anti-inflammatory meds, according to Greenberg. Check out podiatrists’ top solutions for the most common foot problems.

close up of feet standing on a scaleiStock/AJ_Watt

You’re overweight

Extra pounds = more stress on your feet, so your risk for plantar fasciitis does increase if you’re overweight. It can also exacerbate the symptoms, says Greenberg. Did you know your feet could reveal these surprising diseases?

close up of just lower legs and feet of someone climbing the stairsiStock/PetiaIlieva

You have a stand-out foot structure

If you have high arches, you could be more at risk of plantar fasciitis, as the ligament has to work harder to support you, Greenberg explains. Also, if you pronate (or your foot rolls inward) as you walk or run, the foot collapses and that puts extra pressure on the bottom of your feet, upping your chances of experiencing this heel pain. A little further up the leg, your calf impacts your risk as well. If the muscle is tight, it can lead to issues. Here’s how to foam roll your calves and other areas of the body.

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You stand on your feet all day

Just as being inactive can cause heel pain to flare up, so can standing on your feet all day, says Greenberg. Whether you’re standing at a desk, walking around, or you rapidly increase physical activity, you can up your chances of getting plantar fasciitis.

iStock/Christopher Ames

You live in flip flops

Those ballet flats you switch to when it’s chillier out are no better than flip-flops, either. As cute as they may be, these shoes don’t offer the support your feet need. “Look for a shoe with a drop—where the heel is slightly higher than the front of the shoe,” Greenberg recommends. Also, the counter of the shoe, or the cup back by the heel, should also offer support to prevent pronation, he says. These surprising shoe mistakes could be killing your feet.

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You’re a runner

This kind of exercise puts a lot of stress on your feet, especially if you run on hard surfaces, like concrete. Other activities, such as Zumba or even walking for long distances, can contribute to your chance of developing plantar fasciitis. Lower-impact exercises, such as swimming or bicycling, can ease heel pain. Make sure you wear supportive shoes, stretch out your calves frequently, and don’t increase your mileage too quickly—all of which will strain the foot, says Greenberg.

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Medically reviewed by Oscar H. Cingolani, MD, on November 02, 2019