Plantar Fasciitis is a very common condition experienced by many Australians. It doesn’t matter if you are a weekend warrior, endurance athlete or tradie, the heel/ foot pain experienced during a flare up can be both painful and irritating.
What is the Plantar Fascia?
Before we delve into the condition itself, it is important to understand the plantar fascia and what it does. The plantar fascia is a fibrous band of connective tissue that connects the heel bone (calcaneus) to the toes (metatarsal bones). It runs along the sole of the foot to help maintain a healthy arch and is integral for good bio-mechanics of the foot. The plantar fascia helps with force absorption (functions like a suspension) and helps us walk, run and take-off.
How Plantar Fasciitis Occurs
Plantar fasciitis occurs typically when the plantar fascia becomes inflamed as a result of trauma, unaccustomed loading and/or micro tears. It can be caused as a result of overuse. During running, jumping or sprinting movements – the plantar fascia can be strained or overly lengthened causing tears in it.
Another way the injury could occur is by direct trauma. This could happen by coming into contact with a pointed object (landing onto a stone), bringing damage to the tissue and surrounding structures.
Individuals with poor foot positions (poor foot bio-mechanics), are flat footed, overly pronated or have poor control over foot muscles are more susceptible to developing plantar fasciitis. Individuals with an excessive preference for toe running may find themselves more likely to develop inflammation in their plantar fascia.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
- Pain under the foot
- Pain near the heel
- Pain at it’s worst first thing in the morning or after sitting for too long
- Pain during running, walking, exercise
- Pain sometimes disappears after adequate warm-up
At the very worst, Plantar Fasciitis can involve pain at all times of the day (before,during, after exercise and even during rest).
Early Action is Important
It is important to take early intervention for your Plantar Fascia as continual trauma and inflammation can cause bony formation to occur within the plantar fascia. This results in what is known as heel spur formation. Recovery and rehabilitation periods will be delayed should this occur.
What you Can do
Ensure that you warm up your foot a little when waking up from sleep, this allows the plantar fascia to elongate slightly reducing the discomfort. Try wearing some supportive footwear which should help reduce some pain.
See your Physiotherapist to get some help for your plantar fasciitis. Your physiotherapist will help you understand why you are developing plantar fasciitis after an examination. Some treatment and self management tips will be given.
Orthortics/ Sole inserts – It is best not to immediately jump to conclusions regarding the use of inserts. The reason being, any form of inserts adds to the interference between the foot and the ground which will alter foot mechanics. In some cases, adding further interference’s can make the condition worse or promote dependency.
It is important to consult a professional for advice prior to purchasing orthortics.