Plantar Fasciitis (which is now termed plantar fasciopathy) is quite a common condition which results in pain at the front of your heel in your foot. It can be especially common in runners but people who are not overly active can suffer with this also.
Plantar Fasciopathy can be difficult to resolve if it not addressed properly at the right time and it can often affect someone’s running and activity for months.
It occurs when the plantar fascia, which is tissue on the bottom of your foot, becomes overloaded and irritated, resulting in pain when walking, running and anything that puts a load through your foot.
A very common symptom is heel pain first thing in the morning when your put your foot to the floor.
The common old way of treating it was to stretch it, put on a cumbersome sock at night to try and resolve it and to take anti -inflammatories.
Fortunately, there are better ways to treat it and I will got through some of the methods that we use here, at Midlands Physical Therapy.
Address it early
There are two stages that plantar fasciopathy can go through. An early acute stage and a post acute stage.
In the acute stage the plantar fascia is quite sensitive and irritated and what we need to do is to try and reduce this sensitivity and calm it down.
This will mean modifying your activity levels and if you are a runner, it will mean cutting back and sometimes stopping running, to allow it to settle.
There are a few things you can try like heel cups, to raise your heel and take the pressure off the plantar fascia and icing it may help reduce the pain.
At Midlands Physical Therapy we also check to see why the plantar fascia is getting irritated in the first place. That may be because your calf or hamstring is not happy taking the force from the ground and distributing it from your foot up to your hips, meaning plantar fascia may be absorbing too much force.
Or if you are a runner, perhaps there an issue with your other leg and one foot is having to take much pressure when you are running.
There is no cookbook recipe and it will depend on the person and the stressors that person has encountered, that has led to the problem developing.
This is where understanding the persons story is very important.
Range of movement is a big factor
Ensuring that your ankle, foot and big toe has good range of movement is also key. A restriction in any of these movements can result in too much pressure going through the plantar fascia.
Having adequate movement in your big toe is vital for toe off in running or walking and is one that I often find to be restricted in people with foot problems.
Hands on treatment and specific exercises can be very useful in restoring movement through the foot and ankle, helping to take away any excessive and protective tone from ligaments and tissues in the foot and leg.
Safely load and progress it.
Once we have restored good movement through the foot and got the initial sharp pain to settle we can then look at strengthening the area so your body is happy returning to activity putting force through the foot again.
This is where a lot of people can get caught out because they think that once the pain is gone, the problem is gone.
However, pain is not a good guide to tell when you it is safe to go back to full activity. If you have not exposed you body to the stress that is going to be getting during running or exercising, how can you expect it to tolerate it.
At my clinic, we use a step a step progression to help people return to their favorite activity in a safe way. Which means when they return to running or activity, we are confident that the problem will not return, because we have exposed you the movements and stresses that you are going to encounter.
Patience is needed
One of the things that cannot be predicted with plantar fascia problems is how long it will take to get better and this can be frustrating for people as, naturally, they want to get back to activity as soon as possible.
This is why I like to plan out the persons road to recovery so they can see where they are at and what needs to be done to get them to their ideal outcome.
But, if the treatment is addressed in the right way and the right steps are taken, it can result in a much quicker recovery and return to exercise.
If you are
Struggling with a plantar fascia problem or any problem that is affecting your ability to exercise or run, then reach out, ask for help and don’t try to struggle through it alone.
It can result in you getting back to doing your favorite much quicker, without loosing weeks to frustration and annoyance.