Are you experiencing sharp pain at the bottom of your foot, around your heel and arch? It is most likely plantar fasciitis. Plantar Fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. A handful of home exercises combined with a massage can usually ease the pain within two weeks. However if the pain persists it’s best to see a podiatrist alongside your physical therapist for comprehensive pain relief.
- Plantar fascia – a thick mass of tissue connecting your toes to your heel bone.
- Plantar fasciitis – occurs when this strong band of tissue that supports the arch of your foot becomes irritated and inflamed.
- Main symptom – pain on the bottom of your foot around your heel and arch.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Melbournians are big fans of running, particularly in 2020 when we couldn’t get to the gym. Unfortunately repetitive impact activity (such as running, sports), can make us more prone to straining our feet and heels, resulting in Plantar Fasciitis.
Experts from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons explain: “the plantar fascia is designed to absorb the high stresses and strains we place on our feet. But, sometimes, too much pressure damages or tears the tissues. The body’s natural response to injury is inflammation, which results in the heel pain and stiffness of plantar fasciitis”. (Ortho Info).
Alongside running and sports, other risk factors include:
- Tight calf muscles that make it harder to flex your foot
- Very high arches or flat feet
- New or increased activity
- Footwear! ( regularly wearing high heels, well worn out shoes with thin soles, or ill-fitting footwear during sports/physical activity)
Classic symptoms are:
- Pain in the morning after waking/or after resting
- Pain that improves with movement, but is aggravated by long periods of weight bearing.
- Symptoms felt some time into the activity, which heighten quickly and force a person to stop
- Feeling better after exercise, but the pain returns post-rest.
- Finding it difficult to raise your toes off the floor
It’s important to keep in mind that long term Plantar Fasciitis can be extremely debilitating and can put a stop to any sports or exercise if not addressed quickly. Stable Massage therapist Konrad explains: “I advise people to see a podiatrist when they are looking to substantially increase their running, for example training for a marathon, or a long footy season. Prevention is always better than a cure and it’s always best to have an expert assess your arch and advise what footwear is best for the activity you plan on performing.”
How to Relieve Plantar Fasciitis Pain: Plantar Fasciitis Massage
What is the best treatment for plantar fasciitis?
The best treatment for Plantar Fasciitis is strengthening exercises, alongside stretching. Physical therapy treatments depend on the exact cause and symptoms of the plantar fasciitis, but massage to and around the area of concern will usually help by relieving tension stored in the calves and hamstrings, glutes and lower back. This tension has generally built as a result of the body protecting itself from the sharp pains in the heel and sole of the foot. Massage and mobilisations of the legs are also a primary focus.
Depending on the situation, myofascial dry needling is also an option. It can be very effective for plantar fasciitis as it relieves trigger points in the affected muscles in the sole of the foot. Dry needling is helpful for immediate relief but also for those suffering from long term Plantar Fasciitis.
Note: if ongoing pain is being experienced, it’s best to see a specialist first so that the physical therapist can work in conjunction with an expert.
How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis at Home
“Foot stretches and exercises can help plantar fasciitis by relieving pain, improving muscle strength, and promoting flexibility in the foot muscles and ligaments”. Medical News Today
Medical News Today provides a great list of tips, including information and videos to follow at home. Exercises include: stretching the calf, rolling stretches, stretching the plantar fascia, foot flexes, towel curls, marble pickups and self massage.
If plantar fasciitis is really beginning to bother you, first visit your podiatrist, then visit your Myotherapist for targeted relief, and an ongoing treatment plan (including home exercises between appointments). A single appointment will most likely provide immediate relief but there is no magic bullet for chronic aches and pains. Long term improvements will happen only with ongoing therapy and an active treatment plan.
Book an appointment with a therapist today on 03 8598 9804 or online.