What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a condition which causes pain into the heel and sole of the foot. It can affect one foot or both at the same or varying times. The plantar fascia is a thick ligament-like structure which supports the bottom of our feet. A one-off injury or repetitive overload can cause this condition.
What are the symptoms?
Common complaints of plantar fasciitis are often sharp pain on standing after a period of sitting, and during the first few steps in the morning. Pain gradually eases after a short period of walking. Prolonged walking may cause the foot to ache and resting eases the pain again.
What are the causes?
- Sudden change in walking, running or standing routine.
- Poor footwear.
- Increased weight or overweight.
- Poor muscle flexibility.
- Over pronating, “flat feet” or “high arched feet”.
What are the treatment options?
You can often treat plantar fasciitis yourself by doing some of the very simple exercises and management techniques as instructed by your Physio. It can take a couple of weeks to notice improvements in the pain and can be sometimes painful to begin these tips, but perseverance is the key. During Physiotherapy sessions there might be various treatment options like Shockwave, Dry Needling, specific stretching and strengthening exercises.
Positions of rest
An important component of treating plantar fasciitis is avoiding resting positions in which your foot is relaxed. While sitting you should avoid resting your foot with your toes pointing away from you.
What can I do?
Initially, it can be uncomfortable, but you should aim to stretch as regularly as possible. Each stretch should be held for 20 seconds and repeated regularly throughout the day.
- Point both feet forwards (affected leg at the back).
- Keep the back-foot heel in contact with the floor.
- Lunge forwards onto the front leg until you feel a stretch in the lower part of your back leg.
Plantar Fascia Stretch
- Use the corner of the floor or back of a door.
- Wedge your foot and big toe in the corner.
- Slowly push your foot towards the ground forcing your big toe upwards.
Gentle massage to the sole of the foot is very effective but can be painful. You should aim to massage for around 5 minutes and it should become less painful at the end of the 5 minutes.
Orthotics help support the sole of your foot and prevents you over stretching the foot while you are walking. Try to wear supportive shoes or trainers and avoid flip flops and excessive flat soled shoes.
Simple painkillers or anti-inflammatory medication can help reduce the pain in the early stages. (Always check with your GP or pharmacist before taking any new medication).
I have tried these treatments before, what else can I do?
Plantar fasciitis can take up to 12 months to improve but with implementing some of the exercises and habits mentioned previously, your symptoms should settle within 3-4 months. Should your pain continue, seek medical advice as needed:
- Customised footwear. Some people require custom made orthotics to help ease their pain.
- Injection. Very occasionally where the plantar fascia attaches onto our heel bone can become inflamed. An injection can help to settle down the inflammation and pain, but still requires you to stretch regularly.
- Night splints. These prevent your feet and plantar fascia from tightening while you sleep, hopefully reducing the pain you experience in the morning.
- Surgery. A very small minority require surgery. This should be considered as a last resort since it does not result in a 100% cure.