If you suffer from heel pain, your doctor has likely mentioned the possibility of you having plantar fasciitis; but what is it? What caused you to develop this condition? The plantar fascia is a thin, webby ligament that connects your heel and the front of your foot. Under normal circumstances, the plantar fascia acts as a shock absorbing support for the arch of your foot, and helps you walk, run and jump. When tension and stress build on the plantar fascia, you can develop small tears. Repeated overstretching and tearing can cause the fascia to become irritated and inflamed, causing the sharp, stabbing pain patients with plantar fasciitis are all too familiar with. While doctors aren’t 100 percent sure what causes plantar fasciitis, there are some commonly accepted theories. Age As you age, the normal wear-and-tear of the muscles puts you at risk to develop conditions like plantar fasciitis. The condition is most common in adults ages 40 to 60, and slightly more common in women than in men. Obesity If you’re overweight or obese, you’re more at risk for developing plantar fasciitis. This is because of the extra strain put upon your plantar fascia ligaments, especially during sudden weight gain. Pregnant women, particularly during the last trimester of their pregnancy, may experience bouts of plantar fasciitis; however, this usually goes away with rest, and of course after delivery. Work Your job might be putting you at risk for developing plantar fasciitis. If you’re constantly on your feet in a very active job – such as factory workers or restaurant servers – you’re at risk for developing plantar fasciitis. Runners and active adults are more likely to develop plantar fascia problems. Many runners may ignore slight pains in the feet, but if continued stress is put upon the plantar fascia the condition could worsen. Listen to your body, and don’t ignore developing pain. Other Foot Problems If you have other existing foot problems – high arches or flat feet – you’re much more likely to develop plantar fasciitis. People with tight Achilles tendons may also develop plantar fascia pains, but this can be fixed with a good stretching regiment. Simply wearing shoes with little to no arch support can result in plantar fasciitis. When the summer gets hot, people love to reach for just an average flip flop; however, soft-soled flat shoes provide no support to your feet and put extra pressure upon the ligaments of the plantar fascia.