• Dave the physio

Plantar Fasciitis: Heeling that heel pain


WHAT IS IT?

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common sources of heel pain, and is experienced by thousands of Australians at any given time. It is an irritation to the plantar fascia (the thick band of ligamentous tissue running along the sole of the foot), causing sharp pain, swelling and stiffness at the base of the heel. In most cases, this irritation is caused by overstretching of the fascia. Plantar fasciitis commonly presents with intense morning pain, and pain after resting the feet for an extended period of time. Symptoms can be aggravated by various activities including prolonged walking, time spent standing or an increase in the load placed through the feet.

HOW CAN I FIX IT?

Plantar fasciitis has quite a variable period of recovery. In the acute stage of injury, symptoms can be quite intense and easily irritable, making it difficult to walk without any pain. This stage can last from anything between 1 week, up to about 8 weeks. Over time, symptoms will begin to ease, and the pain will eventually disappear. One of the most important factors to address early on is avoiding any foot postures that triggered the initial onset of pain. This will allow the fascia to rest and recuperate so that you can get back into your normal daily activities without having to worry about making the pain worse.

There are various treatment methods available for addressing plantar fasciitis:

  • STRETCHING of the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon

  • TAPING to provide some extra support to the bottom of the foot

  • ORTHOTICS to help distribute the load and pressure placed through the feet

  • STRENGTHENING of the plantar fascia and lower leg muscles

For any acute exacerbations of the injury, ice massage is recommended to ease any inflammation or swelling. Using a frozen water bottle like a foam roller is a great way to easily massage the base of the foot when symptoms are triggered!

HOW CAN IT BE PREVENTED?

There are several modifiable risk factors that could predispose an individual to developing plantar fasciitis. These include older age, a high BMI, high training load and intensity, unsupportive footwear, and reduced range of motion in the ankle and big toe. Footwear that does not provide enough arch support should be avoided (i.e. thongs or loose sandals). Walking barefoot should also be avoided whenever possible.

Overall fitness needs to be maintained, however individuals suffering from plantar fasciitis need to take a bit more care when returning to activity. Reorientation to exercise should be very gradual to prevent re-injury and aggravation of symptoms.

If you think you have plantar fasciitis, or need help treating your foot pain, contact us today!

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