The plantar fascia is tough fibrous tissue on the bottom of the foot , traveling from the heel to the toes. Inflammation of this structure is called plantar fasciitis and is usually felt as pain in the arch, near the heel. Runners usually find that the first step out of bed in the morning is the worst, and then the pain gradually decreases during the day. Predisposing conditions include overpronation of the foot, tight calf muscles, poor ankle flexibility, and weak muscles on the bottom of the foot.
Treatment consists of ice, relative rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and stretching (see figure below). Arch taping, heel cups, and orthotics are also useful. Once these treatments have begun to work then a strengthening program can be started. Using your toes to pick objects (eg. socks, newspaper, or marbles) off the floor is a simple exercise to help strengthen the muscles in the foot. All of the modalities -- including strengthening -- should not increase pain. Listen to your body and adjust your rehab. program accordingly.