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, 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 more after exercise, up to 24 hours later.

What causes it?

A real can of worms here as, although many risk factors have been identified, evidence for some of these is variable and somewhat inconsistent. Some of the more reliable risk factors for developing Plantar Fasciitis include tightness in the calf muscles increasing tensile strain on the plantar fascia, high BMI, and a history of previous injury. These are just a few causes but any sporting activity that causes excessive loading strain on the fascia beyond what it can tolerate can aggravate the condition.

What can I do?

In the early stages, reducing running volume, wearing supportive shoes, stretching the calf muscles daily and stretching the fascia by pulling the toes upwards can help. Bear in mind that you may not get much pain during running but might experience pain more after running or even the next day. If symptoms continue for more than 2 weeks despite these measures it is best to stop any impact exercise and consult a Podiatrist.

How can a Podiatrist help?

A typical treatment programme for Plantar Fasciitis will include:-

Stretches to increase flexibility in the calf muscles and reduce strain on the Plantar Fascia.

Shockwave therapy for pain relief and to accelerate the healing response.

Sports taping and orthotics to ease strain on the Fascia during the healing process.

Footwear modification where needed to give proper support and cushioning against impact.

Strengthening exercises to strengthen the plantar fascia and important supporting structures in the lower limb such as the calf, gluteal and hamstring muscles.

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

Achilles 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 summary, Plantar Fasciitis, although irritating, can usually be successfully treated with a proper management plan. As with all injuries, the sooner it is treated, the quicker it will heal.

An athlete running along a path through trees

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.

 

 

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