What is plantar fasciitis? Scientifically it’s inflammation of the plantar fascia where it inserts onto the calcaneum, which in everyday terms means a sore heel.
As we head toward summer and the weather starts to warm-up, we like to get involved in more outdoor activities, such as running and hiking. If we just launch into these activities without the correct approach we can open ourselves up to developing plantar fasciitis.
Whilst there can be many contributing factors, it is essentially an overuse syndrome, with the most common causes including poor footwear (or arch support) and trying to do too much too soon. i.e. you had all winter off running and then try to push out a ½ marathon on the first run back!
The plantar fascia is a thick, fibrous band that makes up part of the arch and connects the heel to the ball of the foot.
It is there to provide stability for the bones and joints of the foot by maintaining the arch, and it also assists in pushing the foot off the ground when walking and running.
Overstretching (flat feet and overuse) or bruising (step on a stone) the fascia causes micro tears which leads to inflammation and persistent pain.
So what does it feel like and how do we identify if we might have plantar fascitiis? There are several tell-tale signs! Plantar fasciitis is commonly associated with a sharp pain on the inside of the bottom of the heel which can feel like a stabbing sensation. Other symptoms include pain or discomfort which is worse first thing in the morning, when standing for long periods or climbing stairs and pain at the start of exercise that eases during the session and then aches afterward. In advanced cases there can also be swelling around the heel.
So what causes plantar fasciitis? As mentioned above trying to do too much too soon, or a rapid increase in your training are major causes of the overloading that leads to inflammation of the plantar fascia. Biomechanical factors, such as flat (pronated) feet and excessively tight calf muscles also play a role, as does our choice of footwear.
Can it be treated and how to we fix it? Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis initially involves resolving the pain followed by restoring function to the surrounding joints. The main methods we use to treat it are; muscle release to the calves and surrounding foot and ankle soft tissues, gentle stretching to the Achilles and Plantar Fascia, in combination with taping or arch support to unload the plantar fascia. You will also need to modify the activities that are causing pain as well as engage in ankle and foot strengthening to prevent re-injury and potentially look into more permanent arch supports.
So here’s a couple of tips to try and help you avoid developing plantar fasciitis:
1. Ease into your training by initially having a day’s rest between sessions and don’t increase the load of your training by more than 10% between sessions.
2. Invest in, and use, a pair of good, supportive shoes. Not all shoes are for everyone so pick a store that has a fitting service so you know you are getting the right shoe for your foot.
3. Make sure you stretch your calves and plantar fascia before and after all exercise sessions.
A bonus tip if you think you might already be suffering from plantar fasciitis is to roll the arch of the foot on a frozen water bottle for 2-3 minutes every hour. This will help to release the muscle and the ice will send it numb and reduce the pain.
So there you have it, that’s plantar fasciitis covered in a nut shell. If you have questions or comments feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will happily answer them for you.
If you think you may already be suffering from plantar fasciitis and want relief now then call us on (08) 9486 8653 and we will arrange an appointment for you.