The Do's and Don'ts of Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is the main cause of heel pain. Previously known as ‘policeman’s heel’, plantar fasciitis tends to be particularly worse in the morning, especially when taking your first few steps, after a long period on your feet, or initial weight bearing after sitting for a while. It is often described as a stabbing pain, or a dull ache concentrated around the heel / sole area.
What causes Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a broad band of fibrous tissue that spans from the heel of the foot to the base of all the toes. It acts as a spring mechanism to support the arch of the foot during the heel strike and toe-off phase of gait; therefore, it needs to be both strong and supple to support the weight of your body. When this becomes inflamed, it can cause pain on the underside of the foot which often begins on the base of the heel – known as plantar fasciitis.
There is not one certain reason for the development of plantar fasciitis but often it is associated with a sudden change in activity. This does not always have to be an increase in activity but can also come from a reduction in activity too.
Additionally, plantar fasciitis can be brought on from a change of mechanical load through the foot itself. This can be caused by a change in footwear, running or walking route, occupation or daily activity levels.
There are also other factors that can increase the risk of development, such as prolonged periods of standing (hence the name policeman’s foot) or increased load through the foot (i.e. Increased body weight). Additionally, it is thought that those with extremely high or low foot arches (flat feet) and/or tight calves muscles are at a greater risk of developing plantar fasciitis as this can increase the amount of strain placed through the fascia, increasing the risk of injury.
How is Plantar Fasciitis diagnosed?
Plantar Fasciitis is diagnosed through an assessment with a medical professional, often a physiotherapist. No imaging is required for this, however, should your symptoms not respond to treatment, an x-ray can be requested to rule out a heel spur or any bony injury.
Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis
In most cases, physiotherapy is the main form of conservative management for plantar fasciitis. A physiotherapist can provide appropriate stretches and strengthening exercises for the calf and plantar fascia to help alleviate the symptoms. Additionally, your physiotherapist can deliver Extra-corporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) to the heel of the foot. This delivers sound waves to the area and helps to heal the damaged area of tissue. If this is not successful then a steroid injection may be recommended as a last resort.
Orthotics, such as custom insoles and footwear recommendations, can also be advised to help support the arch of the foot and help to alleviate plantar fascia symptoms. A Podiatrist would be able to assist with this following a full assessment.
Lifestyle changes such as weight loss management and change to a daily routine may also be supported in order to keep the plantar fasciitis symptoms at bay. You should be sure to consult your GP prior to starting your weight loss journey to ensure this is done safely.
The do's and don'ts
Although plantar fasciitis is a very common condition every case is different, thus, treatment and recovery time will vary greatly dependant on an individual and their lifestyle. However, you can be sure to keep your symptoms at bay by following the advice below:
- Maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle
- Stretch the tissues around your ankle and calf from preventing the problem from happening again
- Rest and raise your foot on a stool when able
- Ice the base of the heel or underneath the foot
- Ensure to wrap the ice in a towel and hold to the area for no longer than 20 minutes, with an hour gap
- Wear wide, comfortable shoes
- Have soft insoles or gel pads in your shoes
- Take paracetamol
- See professional advice if your pain does not resolve within 14 days.
- Wear flat shoes or walk around barefoot on a hard surface
- Pushing through the pain, you will not gain anything!!
- Wear high heels or tight pointy shoes
- Assume you’ll never get back to running again
- Although running may seem like a long way off, there is no reason why you cannot get back to sporting activity and a busy lifestyle.
Are you suffering with plantar heel pain? Are you in pain with the sole of your foot when walking? …. Book now for a detailed musculoskeletal assessment and experience excellent rehab for your heel pain here at Hempstead Therapy Centre!