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This Common Foot Injury Forced Tiger Woods Out of a Golf Tournament, But It Doesn’t Just Affect Athletes

December 02, 2022

Tiger Woods withdrew from the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

In a statement, Woods wrote that the diagnosis made it difficult for him to walk so he could focus on hosting the event and prepare for The Match and PNC Championship.

But what exactly is this injury and who does it afflict?

Orthopedic surgeon Raymond Sullivan, MD, who specializes in the foot and ankle with Hartford HealthCare’s Bone & Joint Institute at Hartford Hospital, explains.

> Concerned about plantar fasciitis? Connect with the Bone & Joint Institute’s Foot and Ankle Services

Plantar fasciitis is a common inflammation of the heel.

Plantar fasciitis involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of each foot and connects the heel bone to the toes (plantar fascia). It causes stabbing pain that usually occurs with the first steps in the morning, and can decrease as the day goes on but can be made worse by spending hours on your feet.

According to Dr. Sullivan, plantar fasciitis actually strikes non-athletes more frequently than athletes,

Why did Tiger Woods withdraw for plantar fasciitis?

The ailment wouldn’t preclude Woods from hitting a golf ball, says Dr. Sullivan, but walking 18 holes would be painful.

“The other two tournaments he said he will still play both allow the use of carts. The Hero tournament requires walking,” says Dr. Sullivan.

How is it treated?

Sullivan said you can successfully treat plantar fasciitis with stretching and immobilization of the foot and ankle at night during sleep. He said exercises that stretch the toes, foot and calf are most effective, and also recommends adding a heel cushion to shoes to help with the pain.

Typically patients only seek medical treatment when the pain becomes severe, explains Dr. Sullivan. When he sees a patient with plantar fasciitis he prescribes specific exercises. A physical therapist can also help, he said.

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Risk factors for plantar fasciitis

Some risk factors for plantar fasciitis include:

  • Age. Plantar fasciitis is most common in people between the ages of 40 and 60.
  • Certain types of exercise. Activities that place a lot of stress on your heel and attached tissue — such as long-distance running, ballet dancing and aerobic dance — can contribute to the onset of plantar fasciitis.
  • Foot mechanics. Flat feet, a high arch or even an atypical pattern of walking can affect the way weight is distributed when you’re standing and can put added stress on the plantar fascia.
  • Obesity. Excess pounds put extra stress on your plantar fascia.