What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia which is a long fibrous band in the foot that joins the calcaneus (heel bone) to the toes.
Plantar Fasciitis is a painful foot condition commonly effecting, but not limited to, sports people and those who have recently started on an exercise regime.
It is a painful and debilitating foot injury and when left untreated can lead to further complications such as neuromas, Achilles tendinitis, hip and/or back pain.
What Are the Symptoms?
Plantar Fasciitis is characterised by a severe pain in the heel usually worse in the morning or after sitting for long periods and can be debilitating if left untreated.
The first few steps are quite painful, then the pain settles until you sit down for a period, then get up again, and the pain returns.
After having Plantar Fasciitis for a long time, your foot may throb at night or when you sit down as well as making you limp for your first few steps.
People with chronic plantar fasciitis often complain of a heel spur or bone spur.
This can often be the case in chronic plantar fasciitis due to the plantar fascia continually pulling at its origin, creating irritation to the calcaneus causing a bone spur.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Your Plantar Fascia is an effective shock absorber and supports the arch of your foot helping you walk.
It is like a bow string, where the arch of your foot is like a bow, and the Plantar Fascia is like the bow string.
The Plantar Fascia is directly effected by the length of your calf muscle, a shorter calf muscle puts more strain on the plantar fascia.
Sometimes Plantar Fasciitis may occur without any real cause, however there are certain risk factors including:
Obesity: Excess weight puts extra stress on your feet and thus on your plantar fascia.
High Arches: The higher your arch, the tighter your plantar fascia, and the greater the chance of developing Plantar Fasciitis.
Overpronation or Flat Feet: Abnormal biomechanics such as overpronation puts more strain on your Plantar Fascia as it becomes overstretched and small tears can develop.
Footwear: Unsupportive footwear puts excessive strain on your arches and can lead to plantar fasciitis.
Increase in Activity: Sudden increase in activity such as increased training regimes or undertaking a new exercise program can contribute to the onset of Plantar Fasciitis.
Occupation: Factory workers standing for long periods on hard concrete floors are at a greater risk of plantar fasciitis due to excessive strain on the feet.
Also truck drivers jumping down from the cabin of the truck puts extra strain on the heel.
Activity Type: Certain types of sports activity such as sprinting, long jump, tap dancing or ballet can increase pressure on the heel thus increasing the chance of Plantar Fasciitis.
Ideal Footwear for Plantar Fasciitis
Due to the Plantar Fascia being a fibrous band supporting the structure of the foot, the shoe of choice has the following features:
– A Strong, non-flexible midsole
– Small, sturdy heel (no smaller drop than 5mm)
– A Flexible forefoot
– Lace up fastening to the foot, if this is not possible due to work conditions, then at the very least a strap and buckle/Velcro fastener to the foot
These are the shoes to avoid:
– Completely flat with no heel
– Flexible rubber sole (no support that bends easily in the middle)
– Shoes with memory foam (this causes the muscles of the foot to become lazy and your foot will collapse into an over pronated position)
– Thongs of ballet flats with no fastening to the foot.
Achilles Tendinitis Pain
Plantar fasciitis and Achilles Tendinitis can often be suffered simultaneously.
This is because both attach to the heel, and both are usually related to the length of your calf muscle.
Achilles tendinitis can be relieved by a small heel raise and gentle calf stretching.
If you can not gain relief from stretching then you should consult one of the team at Erica Dash Podiatry.
Achilles Tendinitis With Back Pain
It is not unusual to suffer back pain whilst suffering plantar fasciitis, or even after your plantar fasciitis has resolved.This is because of an altered gait pattern during the course of plantar fasciitis.
Back pain due to plantar fasciitis can be resolved either through dry needling to correct muscle imbalance or orthotic therapy.
The team at Erica Dash Podiatry will prescribe a stretching and strengthening program to compliment your choice of therapy and return you back to your healthy self again.
How To Treat
There are multiple treatments available for Plantar Fasciitis these include:
Application of Ice
Immediately after activity, the application of a cold pack or ice pack can effectively reduce the pain and inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis.
Gently stretching the calf and plantar tissues helps to relieve Plantar Fasciitis.
Plantar Tissue Stretch
By rolling your foot on a tennis ball or spikey ball you can stretch and gently massage your Plantar Fascia.
Calf Muscle Stretch
The length of your leg and calf muscles directly impact your heel, therefore by gently stretching your calf muscles, you can reduce pressure on your heel.
Be sure to hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat three times.
Some people with plantar fasciitis find night splints helpful as the splint puts a gentle stretch on your calf muscle and can reduce stress on your plantar fascia.
This can be effective in reducing the pain of those first few steps in the morning. Night splints can however be cumbersome to sleep with.
Plantar Fasciitis Socks
Plantar fasciitis socks (available for purchase in clinic or on our online shop) provide support and relief to the plantar fascia all day long.
Orthotics can help your feet function better and improve your posture.
By controlling the way you walk, your podiatrist can control the amount of pressure on your plantar fascia.
Orthotics retrain your muscles to work efficiently.
At Erica Dash Podiatry, our orthotics have a unique heel cushion for comfort and your podiatrist can add more cushion if required.
Dry Needling works on direct trigger points within a muscle enabling the muscle to relax, increasing muscle length.
Your podiatrist will then recommend a home stretching program to keep your muscle at optimum length.
Mobilisation can assist in relieving Plantar Fasciitis by correcting joint dysfunction within the foot.
Shockwave therapy is a successful treatment for Chronic Plantar Fasciitis.
It works through acoustic waves and pressure pulses to stimulate blood flow to the effected area and encourage the body’s natural healing response.
A Massage is an effective treatment for Plantar Fasciitis as it releases trigger points within the muscle, and improves strength and function of surrounding muscles while relaxing plantar tissues.
Shockwave is a great alternative to treatments such as dry needling if you’re needle phobic and not keen on dry needling. We also have effective treatment offers for kids.