Plantar fasciitis: The most common cause of heel pain

Gregory Shamus

Red Bryant, Zach Miller and Cliff Avril have all had plantar fasciitis. This article attempts to explain what it is and how it can be cured.

Red Bryant (and Zach Miller in the Atlanta game) played through plantar fasciitis last season and now Cliff Avril is sitting out of OTAs because of it. Since I assume that I am not the only one who had never heard of this before Seahawks' players started suffering from it, I decided to write something for those who may be interested in it.

Here are some quick facts that have been stolen from various websites -- webmd.com, mayoclinic.com and patient.co.uk -- and rewritten to avoid blatant plagiarism.

  • The Plantar Fascia is a ligament that connects the heel bone to the toes
  • Straining the Plantar Fascia causes it to weaken, swell, and inflame.
  • Repeated strain can cause tiny tears in the ligament which causes the pain
  • The pain is felt in the heel or the bottom of the foot
  • It is a stabbing pain
  • Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain
  • 10% of people will get plantar fasciitis in their lifetime
  • It is most common amongst middle-aged people in the civilian population
  • Very physically active young people - athletes and soldiers - are high risk populations

Speaking of athletes being a high risk population, football players may be at even more at risk to this ailment than other athletes because being overweight, running for long periods of time, and having tight Achilles tendons or calf muscles all increase the risk of injury to the Plantar Fascia. Bryant weighs 323, Miller weighs 255 and Avril weighs 260, which are all much more than the average human. Couple this with the fact that not only are they heavy people, they are heavy people that have to run a lot. Not sure how flexible these guys are but if Red Bryant tore his Achilles, nobody would be all that surprised.

Additionally, plantar fasciitis is not a debilitating injury but it is a persistent and annoying one. It is something that has popped up a few times on the team and most likely will continue to pop up in the future. Also, 10% of the people that read this post are going to get it in their lives so here is how to heal it.

Rest. The coaching/training staff regularly held Bryant and Miller out of practice last season. Avril is currently not practicing in OTAs. Like most injuries, the best way to cure this is to allow it time to heal.

Wear footwear that cushions the heel and supports the arch. Safe bet that the majority of plantar fasciitis players tried on a different pair of cleats to see if it helped with the pain.

Wear heel pads and arch supports. Another safe bet that they all wear custom made foot padding to alleviate the pain.

Take painkillers and anti-inflamatory medication. Unless they have Walter Jonesish type health issues, the plantar fasciitis players are taking meds.

Steroid injections. All hardcore football movies make it seem like players get shot up with steroids so they can play through things like broken femurs. Zach Miller got a shot of something to play through a torn Plantar Fascia against Atlanta. Not sure if it was a steroid shot or another type of pain killer. Regardless, steroid injections are a way to alleviate the pain and if this is not against the rules then it is probably done.

Surgery. Every site said that this is a last resort. No Seahawks players have had to undergo surgery for this.

With all that said, Avril's plantar fasciitis should not be a huge deal heading into the season. He has plenty of time to heal his heel. If it does persist throughout the year, he will probably not have to miss any games because of it. He will however most likely miss a lot of practices. This should not be that big of a deal though, just ask Allen Iverson.

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