What Is a Torn Plantar Fascia?

"Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary", describes fascia as a sheet or band of fibrous tissue that stretches over a muscle or other body organ. The plantar fascia, also called aponeurosis plantaris, attaches to the inner side of the calcaneus--the heel bone--and runs up to the toes along the bottom of the foot. Plantar fasciitis results when this sheath of tissue becomes inflamed. A partial or full tear to the injured fascia can follow.


The plantar fascia supports and flexes with the movement of the foot. In the form of a sheet as opposed to a mass of tissue, the plantar fascia gives stability to the step while encouraging a proper heel-toe contact with the ground. "Human Anatomy", shows that the plantar fascia inserts at the heel and then fans out to cover the entire bony part of the sole of the foot.


Injury to the plantar fascia relates directly to stress to the area. Stress can be caused by overly strenuous running workouts, doing aerobics and playing strenuous sports, but other situations can irritate the fascia as well. A report from heel-that-pain.com states obesity, poorly fitted shoes and sudden weight gain can lead to plantar fasciitis and eventually the rupture of the plantar fascia.


In their report on plantar fascia injuries, heel-that-pain.com states that heel and arch pain often occur spontaneously in individuals with a torn plantar fascia. The athlete cannot continue his sport as he experiences difficulty placing his heel on the ground. The greatest discomfort happens when getting out of bed in the morning. The pain caused by touching the heel to the floor prevents even normal walking.


According to "Current Emergency Diagnosis and Treatment," ice packs applied to the elevated foot over the first 24 to 48 hours help reduce inflammation. Ideally, the foot should rest for 3 to 4 weeks. Limited walking with the heel elevated brings the quickest healing results, and using crutches or a cane aid in mobility and allow the heel to stay in a raised position. Gradual use and stretching of the foot slowly increases flexibility. An anti-inflammatory may lessen the pain and speed healing. Temporary avoidance of the activity that initiated the injury prevents relapsing symptoms.


Paying attention to the bodies’ warning signs of impending injury allows the athlete or fitness enthusiast to adjust intensity level accordingly. More importantly, adequate stretching must precede any exercise or sport. When you take the time to warm up, the body’s muscles and supporting tissues are less prone to injury. l Supportive and well-fitting shoes are also an important part of every workout. Aiming for a safe and healthy body weight reduces the chance of injury to the feet and other body parts.

About the Author

Vita Ruvolo-Wilkes was first published in 1977. She worked as a certified aerobics and exercise instructor. Upon graduating from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, she worked for the VA Medical Center. As a physician assistant, Ruvolo-Wilkes designed specialized diets for her patients' conditions and has written a monthly health column in the "Montford Newsletter."