What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the fibrous tissue (plantar fascia) along the bottom of the foot which connects the heel bone to the toes. It is often caused by repetitive motion or anything that puts a lot of pressure on the arch of the foot. As the plantar fascia acts as a shock absorber for the foot, tension and stress can cause small tears.
Repeated stretching and tearing of the facia can irritate or inflame it, although the cause can remain unclear in many cases of plantar fasciitis.
Other factors that may contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis include the type of shoes worn, different foot structures, and different walking surfaces.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis The main symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain, however some people also feel pain in the arch of their foot. Pain from plantar fasciitis is often worse when walking around first thing in the morning, although it can also be triggered by long periods of standing or when you get up from sitting.
How is plantar fasciitis treated? Physiotherapy aims to reduce symptoms and strengthen the muscles that take load while standing and walking.
Initial rest from aggravating activities can be beneficial for symptom management, which can then allow for strengthening to be commenced. Your physiotherapist will provide you with a tailored exercise program to strengthen the calf muscles, including the gastrocnemius, soleus and Achilles tendon as seen in the diagram below. This can help to take the excessive load off the plantar fascia and relieve associated symptoms.
An example of exercises that are used to strengthen these muscles include:
Single leg mini squat
Isometric toe flexion
Plantar fascia stretch
Plantar fascia stretching can also be useful for relieving the pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Rolling a hard lacrosse ball under the arch of the foot can be pain-relieving for some patients with heel pain from plantar fasciitis. Your physiotherapist may also apply a deep massage to the arch and insertion of the fascia to relieve tension that has built up in the arch of the foot.
At Breathe Physio & Pilates, the Plantar Pad is available to purchase and is a fascia tissue strengthening device that can be helpful to strengthen the foot muscles and calf. Its design places the plantar fascia under some tension while the muscles in the foot and calf work. With the correct use, the exercises will strengthen your fascia tissue and reduce the pain in your foot.
Make sure to check with your physio before using the device if you have ongoing heel pain.
If you are experiencing heel pain, it is important to see a physiotherapist as they will perform a full foot assessment to determine whether the cause is from plantar fasciitis or alternatively if your heel pain is presenting from a different clinical presentation that may have similar symptoms. Feel free to give us a call on 07 3061 7128 or send us a DM on Instagram (@breathe.physio.pilates).
Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2022). Plantar Fasciitis. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/plantar-fasciitis#:~:text=Plantar fasciitis can be caused,usually does not require surgery.
Mayo Clinic. (2022, January 20). Plantar fasciitis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/plantar-fasciitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354846
Plantar Physio. (n.d.). What is the Plantar Pad? https://www.plantarphysio.com/
Sydney West Physio. (2018, January 21). Plantar Fasciitis and how physiotherapy will resolve it. https://sydneywestphysio.com.au/physiotherapy/plantar-fasciitis-and-physiotherapy/