Plantar Fasciitis

What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a thick, fibrous band of tissue located on the bottom of your foot. It extends from the heel to the base of the toes. This tissue plays a crucial role in stabilising and supporting your foot as you move through daily activities. However, when the plantar fascia becomes overloaded and strained, it can become inflamed and injured, leading to pain and discomfort. This condition is known as plantar fasciitis.

The primary cause of plantar fasciitis is a change in how you load your foot. Several factors can increase your risk of developing this condition, including:

Overuse and over-training

  • Inadequate or worn-out footwear
  • Poor strength, mobility, and flexibility in the lower limbs
  • Muscle imbalances and dysfunction
  • Weight gain and a sedentary lifestyle
  • Rigid feet with poor mobility and flexibility, which are inadequate to absorb shock
  • Leg length differences
  • Abnormal walking and running patterns that place extra stress on the heel bone and ligaments
  • Careers and hobbies that involve prolonged periods of standing
  • Age; as you get older, your tissues become less elastic

When high loads are repeatedly placed on the heel bone and surrounding soft tissues, they can become fatigued and lose their ability to absorb shock effectively, leading to plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis typically begins with mild pain at the heel bone, often described as a stone bruise. This pain is usually felt after (not during) exercise. It is most pronounced right after getting up in the morning or after a period of sitting. Without treatment, plantar fasciitis can become a chronic condition, potentially leading to reduced activity levels and further issues with the foot, knee, hip, and back, as the condition can alter your walking pattern.

Managing plantar fasciitis involves a combination of exercises, physiotherapy, and massage to alleviate pain and promote healing. Here are some effective treatment methods:

  1. Stretching Exercises: Regular stretching of the calf muscles and the plantar fascia can help reduce tension and promote flexibility. Try stretching exercises such as calf stretches, towel stretches, and toe stretches.
  2. Strengthening Exercises: Strengthening the muscles of the foot and lower leg can improve stability and reduce strain on the plantar fascia. Exercises like toe curls, picking up marbles with your toes, and resistance band exercises are beneficial.
  3. Physiotherapy: A physiotherapist can design a personalised exercise program, taping, and manual therapy to reduce pain and inflammation.
  4. Massage: Regular massage can help increase blood flow to the affected area, reduce muscle tension, and alleviate pain. Techniques such as deep tissue massage and trigger point therapy are particularly effective.
  5. Footwear: Wearing supportive shoes with good arch support and cushioning can help alleviate symptoms. In some cases, orthotic inserts may also provide additional support and reduce strain on the plantar fascia.
  6. Rest and Ice: Resting the affected foot and applying ice can help reduce inflammation and pain. It’s important to avoid activities that exacerbate the condition.

By understanding the causes, recognising the symptoms, and following a comprehensive treatment plan, you can effectively manage plantar fasciitis and maintain your active lifestyle.