Plantar Fasciitis An Incredibly Common Condition
If you’ve ever woken up in the morning with a sharp pain in your heel and turned to Dr Google to find out what is causing it, you have probably diagnosed yourself with Plantar Fasciitis. And typically for good reason, Plantar Fasciitis (also known as Plantar Heel Pain or Plantar Fasciosis) is a painful and incredibly common condition that accounts for 15% of the total visits to Podiatrists in Australia.
Plantar Fasciitis typically presents with a sharp pain in the heel of (usually) one foot first thing in the morning, after rest and at the end of extended periods of weight bearing. Plantar Fasciitis is generally a progressive condition, it will typically begin as a nagging background pain that you can’t seem to shake and can progress to a sharp and debilitating pain that radiates up the arch, around the heel and prevents you walking at all.
What is the Plantar Fascia?
The Plantar Fascia is a thick, fibrotic band of connective tissue that begins at the bottom of the heel bone, runs up the length of the arch and connects past the balls of the feet. It has an incredibly important role in the way that our body absorbs shock and provides the natural support to our arch.
I like to think of the Plantar Fascia as a tight elastic band that helps recycle the energy that we absorb each step. When our foot hits the ground, our foot is designed to pronate (ankle roll in, arch lower), during this motion the Plantar Fascia lengthens and stores this energy. As we begin to prepare to push off the ground our foot supinates (arch lifts, foot rolls out slightly). It is now where the Plantar Fascia acts as a rigid level, we push off the big toe and it propels us forward in an economical and efficient way.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis And Why Does It Get So Painful?
Plantar Fasciitis is the result of degenerative irritation of the Plantar Fascia. Simply put, the Plantar Fascia is overused and overstretched. It is generally an accumulation issue and develops over a period of time, the repetitive strain causes microtears in the Fascia and this becomes inflamed and degenerated.
There are a number of factors that increase the risk of developing Plantar Fasciitis. These include:
- Sudden increase in day to day loads (increasing your running training for city to surf, starting a new gym routine, walking your new puppy twice a day, walking to work in the spring sunshine etc etc)
- Poor Footwear (Wearing the wrong shoes at the wrong times for the wrong activities)
- Weight gain (Putting on the covid kgs, pregnancy etc)
- Poor Biomechanics (feet pronating and rolling in too much or not enough)
- Walking Errors (Taking heavy and long strides, hitting the ground heavily with the heel)
- Weak foot and ankle muscles (Intrinsic muscle weakness, Tibialis Posterior weakness etc)
- Tight Calf Muscles
How Do Podiatrists Help Get Rid Of Plantar Fascia Pain?
The good news is Plantar Fasciitis can be relatively simple to treat. The most important thing it to identify and change what has caused the issue. This is done by your Podiatrist or Physio asking lots of questions and doing a thorough biomechanical assessment.
From there we may use treatment such as:
- Foot and ankle strengthening. (Plans made specifically for you, to target the specific weaknesses that have contributed to the injury)
- Stretching plans. (To strength and lengthen any tight muscles contributing to the problem),
- Foot taping with either Rigid or Flexible sports tape
- Gait retraining
- Posture training
- Prescription of foot orthoses. (Where appropriate and only when necessary, to allow the injured area to heel)
- Footwear changes. (Don’t worry, we won’t throw away your heels or favourite slides)
- Load modification (changes to running programs)
- Shockwave therapy (Sounds scary but is pain free and incredibly effective)
- Ultrasound therapy
Without sounding to cliché, every case is individual and treatment plans will be specific to the individuals’ goals and the factors that have contributed in the first place. At the Movement Centre we use the most up to date evidence based research to guide our treatment plans to get you back on to your feet quicker.