Plantar fasciitis is a very common complaint at the clinic. It’s characterised by pain on the inside and forward portion of the heel which is often worse first few steps in the morning or after a period of inactivity. In the house, it can feel better when wearing slippers.
There are a diverse range of factors that contribute to the onset of this pain. Unfortunately for many people the pain lasts for a long time before they pop into the clinic to have it looked at. The tissue of the plantar fascia is actually relatively poorly vascularised compared to other tissue types which is one reason why plantar fascia is as prone to chronic injury as it is. Often the onset of the pain is associated with a change in activity levels; increasing weight training volumes at the gym for example, or taking on a new running program. Interestingly the strength of the muscles in your legs (especially your glutes!) and your ability to control these muscles can also be be related to the onset of the problem.
The treatment approach that I most often suggest to clients is also diverse. I usually suggest a combination of manual therapy to mobilise the soft tissues of the foot and (obviously!) the plantar fascia in particular. Joint mobilisations at the midfoot and ankle can also be helpful. Strength training, especially of the hip musculature and control type exercises including wobble board and bosu oriented exercise is super fun and is often also appropriate. Stretching in addition to strength training can be helpful and using a strassburg sock [www.thesock.com] is an easy way to do this. The use of athletic tape to support the foot is also a great option in the short term. In the video attached I demonstrate a couple of simple exercises that you can try at home to help you manage plantar fasciitis oriented pain.
It’s important to not confuse plantar fasciitis pain with that sourced from other places, like peripheral nerve compressions at the low back or elsewhere in the leg, or from atrophy of the fat pad on your heel, these (amongst others) are also common causes of heel pain. If you are unsure do not hesitate to be evaluated by a physiotherapist! If you have any questions do not hesitate to ask me!
Reading for more information (If you really want to impress your friends!)
Martin, R. L., Davenport, T. E., Reischl, S. F., McPoil, T. G., Matheson, J. W., Wukich, D. K., … & Davis, I. (2014). Heel pain—plantar fasciitis: revision 2014. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 44(11), A1-A33.
Garrett, TR, Neibert, PJ. The Effectiveness of a Gastrocnemius-Soleus Stretching Program as a Therapeutic Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation. 2013;22:308-213.
Berbrayer, D., & Fredericson, M. (2014). Update on evidence-based treatments for plantar fasciopathy. PM&R, 6(2), 159-169.