Active Podiatry - Sports Podiatry for Runners & Athletes

Heel That Pain – Plantar Fasciitis

heel painPlantar Fasciitis is one of the most common painful conditions that I treat on a regular basis in my clinics. I have lost count over the years of how many of these cases have come limping through my door!

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis is a repetitive strain injury to the thick band of connective tissue, called the Plantar Fascia, which runs underneath the foot and gives extra support and stability when standing and walking. As it is a major load bearing structure of the foot it is predisposed to strain and tearing, especially during sports where impact forces are higher and therefore strain on the Fascia is increased.

How do I know if I've got it?

Typical symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis include pain first thing in the morning, usually in the heel or inside of the arch or after sitting for a period of time and then standing.  It can also hurt on walking, and running  but usually tends to hurt after exercise, up to 24 hours later.

What causes it?

Some of the risk factors for developing Plantar Fasciitis include excessive pronation where the foot rolls in and flattens out excessively, increasing tensile stress on the fascia, over tight calf muscles pulling on the fascia via the Achilles tendon, or a high arch foot type where the fascia is functionally tight. These are just a few causes but any sporting activity that causes excessive strain on the fascia can aggravate the condition.

What can I do?

In the early stages, resting from impact exercise, wearing supportive shoes, stretching the calf muscles and stretching the Fascia by pulling the toes upwards can help. If symptoms continue for more than 2 weeks despite these measures it is best to consult a Podiatrist.

How can a Podiatrist help?

A typical Sports Podiatry treatment programme for Plantar Fasciitis will usually include:-

  • An intensive stretching programme involving the calf muscles and Plantar Fascia itself.
  • Orthotics to ease strain on the Fascia during the healing process.
  • Physical therapy including soft tissue and joint mobilisations to bring the injured tissues back into normal function.
  • Footwear modification where needed to give proper support and cushioning against impact.
  • Prescribing strengthening exercises to strengthen the plantar fascia.

What else can cause heel pain?

Whilst Plantar Fasciitis is a common foot injury, pain in the heel or foot can also be caused by a number of other conditions, such as:-

  • Trapped nerve
  • Stress fracture
  • Tendinopathies
  • Referred pain.
  • Heel pad bruising

Treatment for the above conditions may differ from that of Plantar Fasciitis, so it is important to make sure you have an accurate diagnosis from a suitably qualified health professional before proceeding with a treatment plan.

In my experience, Plantar Fasciitis, although painful, can usually be successfully treated with a proper management plan. As with all injuries, the sooner it is treated, the quicker it will heal!

Please note that the content in this blog is for information only and should not be followed or used as a treatment plan without consulting a qualified health professional first. All Podiatrists are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council and can be consulted directly without first seeing a doctor.

I have a small favour to ask you.

Tim Veysey-Smith Cross Country RunningI produce these blogs for the benefit of the running community and I want as many runners as possible to benefit from these. It would really help me if you could take a moment to share these articles with your friends on social media and any relevant groups or forums that you may be subscribed to.

Please feel free to post any questions and comments if these blog post raise any issues for you. Thanks from a fellow runner!

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