Chances are you’ve heard of Plantar Fasciitis before - it’s a pesky little injury that can keep you off your feet for weeks.
It’s the most common reason for heel and foot arch pain and is caused by the inflammation of the plantar fascia in the foot. The plantar fascia is an accumulation of tissues at the bottom of the foot that connects the heel to the toes. It helps to support the arch of your foot and acts as a shock absorber when walking, running, dancing, jumping etc.
What causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is caused by overloading the plantar fascia tissue repeated tearing of the muscle. Some people are more at risk of experiencing plantar fasciitis:
· Training: Increasing your training intensity/frequency/duration too quickly can cause excess stress on the plantar fascia
· Pregnancy: the increased weight during pregnancy causes more stress of the plantar fascia, while the relaxin hormone reduces the stability in the plantar fascia
· Age: Being over the age of 40 could cause plantar fasciitis
· Weight: An increase BMI causes increased pressure on the plantar fascia
· Foot arches: A very high or flat arch can present excess stresses on the plantar fascia
· Calf muscles: Tight calf muscles may cause plantar fasciitis
· Pain at the bottom of the heel that moves along the arch of the foot.
· Pain in the morning, especially with the first few steps after getting out of bed.
· Irritation with activity (running, jumping, long periods of standing etc.), although the pain often subsides after getting going.
If you suspect you may be experiencing plantar fasciitis, it is always recommended to be assessed by a Physiotherapist prior to attempting any treatment methods. In the meantime, here are a few tips to help you manage the pain associated your symptoms:
· Manage pain and inflammation:
o Ice – 10 minutes on, 30 minutes off
o Rest from provocative activities
o Avoid walking bare foot – we recommend wearing supportive sandals (such as Birkenstocks) inside
o Reduce your running schedule and speak with a Physio about how to return to running safely
o Stretch the plantar fascia: hold your heel with one hand and your toes with your other hand and stretch the plantar fascia for 30s. Repeat.
o Stretch the calves: Stand by a wall and bring one foot in front and one foot back. Bend your front knee and lean forward to allow a stretch in the back calf. Keep your back knee straight and hold for 30s. Now repeat but bend your back knee and hold for 30s. Repeat.
o Strengthen the calf muscles: Stand with your toes at the edge of a step. Slowly lower your heels down past the step then slowly raise your heels up. Repeat 10 times.