Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. This soreness is experienced from inflammation and swelling around the thick ligament underneath the foot. Some know this condition as ‘runners heel’. If you think this ailment may be affecting you, read on!
What are the symptoms?
Discomfort is often more painful in the morning due to the ligament having become over-stretched from activity the previous day. In addition, after prolonged standing and/or moving from sitting to standing, sharp pain in the heel area seems worse when taking the first step.
More about the plantar fascia
The plantar fascia connects your heel bone to your toes. It acts as a kind of ‘bow string’ underneath the foot to create shock absorption by supporting the arch. When too much tension is placed on the plantar fascia, this results in inflammation. More seriously, small tears in the ligament leave the fascia irritated and inflamed.
Factors that may cause plantar fasciitis.
Age – this most commonly occurs in people aged between 40 and 60.
Sport – those more prone to plantar fasciitis are long-distance runners, ballistic jumpers, ballet and aerobic dancers.
- A flattened arch or flat feet means the fascia is continually stretched.
- High foot arches can lead to a shortened plantar fascia and
- Incorrect walking patterns can also contribute to this.
Obesity – excessive weight increases the load on the foot resulting in an increase in the tension of the plantar fascia.
Occupation – any occupation where increased standing occurs may lead to a dysfunction in the plantar fascia.
Physiotherapists can diagnose plantar fasciitis by doing a thorough assessment that includes taking into account the patient’s medical history and all clinical findings. Imaging (X-ray or MRI) is not necessary unless other sources of the pain need to be ruled out.
How to treat this condition
Physiotherapy includes techniques to reduce pain and swelling by releasing tightness in the plantar fascia and surrounding tissues.
Rehabilitation consists of a programme of stretches to be done by the patient for tight muscles, as well as correcting the foot bio-mechanics. In addition, strengthening the muscles around the pelvis, hip and knee will help patients to change poor walking habits.
Other help which your Physio can give includes supportive taping of the plantar fascia, recommending compression socks at night time and advice on correcting footwear to allow for good arch support.
Self-treatment includes icing to reduce inflammation, stretching the arches and wearing shoes with adequate arch support.