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Plantar Fasciitis

What is it?
A major pain in the bottom.. of the foot/heel!
Plantar fasciitis means inflammation to your plantar fascia, the thick strong band of connective tissue that runs from your heel to the start of your toes forming the arch of the foot.

Why does it happen?
It occurs because of repetitive stress and strain placed through the foot and over stretching of the plantar fascia causes micro-tears to the connective tissue of the foot. This leads to painful and sometimes hot inflammation. This also causes scar tissue to develop. Scar tissue is non-elastic and makes the plantar fascia stiff and painful.
The heel pain can be dull or sharp and is usually felt on the bottom of the inner aspect of the heel and/or arch of the foot. It may develop slowly over time, or suddenly after intense activity.

Signs and Symptoms
Usually, heel pain is worst when you take your first steps in the morning, or after long sitting. Gentle exercise may ease things a little as the day goes, but a long walk or being on your feet for a long time often makes the pain worse. Resting your foot usually eases the pain. Sudden stretching of the sole of your foot may make the pain worse – for example, walking up-stairs or on tiptoes. The pain may cause you to limp.

It is usually because of an accumulation of factors which may include:
· Overload of activity ie. Sudden increase in training volume/walking/running etc.
· Long hours on feet ie. Retail/Hospitality professions
· Weak/tight muscles within the foot and/or lower extremity
· Poor foot posture ie. Flat feet or high arches
· Poor/unsupportive footwear
· Increase in weight/obesity

Plantar fasciitis can be difficult to treat and can become worse quite quickly if not addressed.
In some case the pain may ease with time, but this can take several months. However, in many cases the following appropriate advice together with hands-on treatment may be necessary to achieve a quicker recovery.
Here are some useful tips and advice you can practice:
  • Reduce or refrain from the aggravating activities – avoid excessive walking, running or standing.

  • Wear Supportive Footwear to allow the inflammation to calm – Avoid walking in barefoot on hard surfaces. Make sure your footwear is well cushioned with good arch support.

  • Heel pads and insoles may help recovery – The aim of the heel pad is to cushion the heel. The aim of the arch support is to reduce the stress going through the sole of your foot. To keep things balanced ensure you should wear these in both shoes.

  • Icing – Placing the foot in a basin of ice cold water for 5-10 minutes pre day. This helps to reduce inflammation.

  • Specific exercises/Stretching – A lot of people with Plantar Fasciitis have a lot of tightness in their Achilles tendon and calf muscles so gentle stretching of the calf and plantar fascia several times throughout the day can help. Below are a few example exercises you can try.

1) Calf Stretch
Stand with one leg in front of the other, with both feet pointed forward. Place hands on a wall.
Keep back knee straight, with the heel pressed to the floor
Push your hips forward, while pressing your back heel to the ground.
Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
Repeat 3 times on each leg.

2) Plantar Fascia Massage
This is best done sitting down.
Place a tennis ball under the sole of your foot.
Gently Roll the ball up and down the inside arch of the foot for just a few minutes.
You may feel a little tenderness, so it is very important that you are gentle. This will help stretch the plantar fascia and release the tight spots in the foot.

Speak to or Visit Your Local Physiotherapist:
Seeking help will help diagnose your problem accurately and assist you in the right direction to achieve a quicker recovery. As Physiotherapist’s, we will assess your body posture and strength and identify the cause of your problem, as it may be a muscular imbalance that has led you to developing this condition. By addressing these imbalances not only should it help your symptoms, but it is highly likely that it will prevent the issue from reoccurring. We will also give you specific advice on how to adapt your lifestyle and exercise to assist your recovery optimally.


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