What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The Plantar Fascia is a tough fibrous band of tissue in the sole of the foot. It stabilises the bones of the foot during impact, maintains the arch of the foot and acts as a shock absorber. Plantar fasciitis refers to an irritation or inflammation of this tissue causing pain under the foot. An old term for this condition is ‘policeman’s heel’.
What causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Injury to this structure is largely due to traction and overloading. Tiny little tears appear in the tissue and a heel spur can form as a result of the persistent pulling/stretching at the point where the tendon attaches to the heel bone. This is often seen on xray and considered a cause of the pain but in actual fact it is merely a characteristic finding of the condition.
This condition presents in 10% of running injuries. Common causative factors include running and jumping sports, sedentary people who are on their feet all day, excessive weight, poorly supporting footwear, weak ankle / foot muscles, flat feet or high arches.
What are the symptoms?
This condition typically presents as pain under the heel or sole of the foot. It is often sharp and intermittent but if left to become chronic, can ache for long periods. It is often worse first thing in the morning and after a period of rest. It can also be painful after a long day on your feet. Some cases last up to 12 months. A small percentage, if left, can become chronic lasting years.
Plantar fasciitis is particularly difficult to treat as your full body weight is constantly loading it when walking and standing. It is advisable to rest from activities involving a lot of impact such as running. If you are overweight then weight loss will help lessen the load through the foot. Supportive comfortable footwear such as trainers are preferable to sandals, flip flops etc.. Using a tennis ball or specific knobbled massage ball to massage into the bottom of the foot can help manage the pain.
Soft tissue massage
Helps to improve the mobility of the often tight plantar fascia thus easing the pull on the bone.
To offload tension from the painful area.
To strengthen the muscles that support the arch of the foot therefore reducing the load through the foot tissue.
The calf complex and plantar muscles are often tight contributing to the problem. Stretching these muscles and fascial tissue can relieve the tension through those structures.
If you have an overpronating foot then this is likely to compound the problem, if not be the cause in the first place. We can look at methods to improve your foot position and suggest orthotics if necessary.
Sound wave therapy to improve the quality of the inflammatory process (Acute problems only).
Particularly stubborn cases may benefit from acupuncture for pain relief and healing stimulation.
Plantar fasciitis can be particularly stubborn and it is always best to have it seen professionally early on.