While the new clearance is a sign that Pujols is starting to recover, he is still not expected to see any playing time until late March.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of a ligament that extends from the heel to the toes. The ligament becomes inflamed (or occasionally, torn) which results in heel pain.
The pain may begin very intermittently, but in the following days, weeks, and months, it becomes more consistent, has greater intensity, and can even spread to the other foot (this gradual presentation could explain how Pujols, a 3 time NL MVP, was able to play through his injury for much of last season.)
In typical situations, plantar fasciitis responds fairly well to conservative, non-surgical treatments like stretching exercises, medications, padding and strapping, orthotic devices, injection therapy, night splints, and physical therapy. If conservative treatment fails, other treatments, like shock wave therapy, may be used, with the aim of eliminating inflammation of plantar fasciitis without surgery. For many athletes, however, surgery becomes necessary, because the repeated trauma from playing sports exacerbates their injury beyond the point where non-invasive treatments can help.