One of the most common forms of heal pain is form Plantar fasciitis (pronounced PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis). Although it's most common in runners, there are other potential causes, as well.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The pain from Plantar Fasciitis comes from inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the toes.
Under normal circumstances, your plantar fascia acts like a shock-absorbing bowstring, supporting the arch in your foot.
If tension and stress on that bowstring become too great, the fascia may experience small tears.
What are the most common causes of Plantar Fasciitis?
Repetitive stretching and tearing can cause the plantar fascia to become irritated or inflamed, though in many cases of plantar fasciitis, the cause isn't clear. However, runners do often suffer from the condition.
As we move into the winter holiday season, we need to be aware of a few things that can cause Plantar Fasciitis that we may not think of.
1. Change in footwear (going to less supportive footwear) and increased walking / standing:
- Walking differently – for example walking on the beach during a winter destination vacation ($10 flip flops can make it worse!)
- Wearing Sandals – walking tour of Europe (cobble stone streets, etc.)
2. Increased body weight and increase weight bearing (both standing, walking)
3. If you have flat feet, or your arches flatten (e.g. as we age and tissues stretch, poor support in footwear/arch)Change in footwear
Do I need to take care of it?
Yes! Ignoring plantar fasciitis may result in chronic heel pain that hinders your regular activities. Changing the way you walk to minimize plantar fasciitis pain might lead to foot, knee, hip or back problems.
What can you do about Plantar Fasciitis?
REST Give your feet a break and try to limit activities that make your foot hurt until inflammation has gone down. This is often harder than it seems in our daily lives. If only we could walk on our hands!
PROTECT Prevent further strain on the plantar fascia. Consider taping, orthotic inserts, night splints, and smart footwear choices (avoid low support, flat shoes).
TREAT THE INFLAMMATION To reduce swelling and pain, ice your heel. Try freezing a water bottle and rolling it back and forth under your foot for 5-10 minutes a few times a day, particularly after a walk/ or run.
STRETCH Regular stretching 2-3 times each day, with 1-2 sets of 2-3 repetitions of 30 second stretches.
What types of physiotherapy treatments help?
In addition to the treatments below, custom orthotics can also help.
- Soft tissue massage to the plantar fascia and calf area
- Acupuncture / dry needling needling to the calf area
- Extracorporeal shockwave therapy to the arches and heels (available at our Nepean clinic)
Wondering if your heel pain is Plantar Fasciitis?
We invite you to reach out to our physiotherapists for more information about Plantar Fasciitis.