What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Our feet are amazing structures. They have a tough, fibrous band of connective tissue under them called the plantar fascia that runs between the heel and the balls of the toes. This tissue is designed to support the foot muscles, prevent the arch of the foot flattening too much and to provide sensory information to the brain about the position the ankle and foot is in.

Plantar Fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia is inflamed. In Latin, the term 'itis' means inflammation, so any condition ending in itis is an inflammatory problem. Often, plantar fasciitis causes pain to the heel and the under-side of the foot that is worse in the morning or when you've been standing on your feet for long periods of time. Commonly, that pain eases off after periods of inactivity when you get moving again. The pain starts gradually, getting worse over time, and can produce a strong dull ache but can also be a sharp pain. If the condition isn't resolved in its early stage it can become chronic, and research shows that the collagen fibres of the connective tissue start to degenerate as the condition becomes chronic. 

Causes of Plantar fasciitis:

  • Calf muscle tension.
  • Lack of ankle flexibility.
  • Overuse – periods of sudden stress such as increasing intensity or duration of walking or running, or periods of prolonged standing.
  • Weak foot arches or foot shape – those with high arches or flat feet often suffer more.
  • Poor footwear – thin soles, regularly wearing high heels, wearing shoes with no support or cushioning.
  • Being overweight – the tissues are placed under higher stress.
  • Direct trauma to the foot i.e. Jumping onto a sharp stone.
  • Muscle weakness elsewhere in the body – weak gluteal muscles in your buttocks can significantly affect your posture and gait.

Treatment of plantar fasciitis:

  • Osteopathy – treatment looks holistically at the foot up to your back and all the joints in between to make sure all structures are performing at their best. There are various helpful techniques to ease pain, and treatment often includes advice on appropriate exercise.
  • Stretching – calf stretches are very important!
  • Self-massage – best done sitting using a golf ball or small bottle of water, frozen. Roll the item with the affected foot to massage the fascia. Be gentle to start and increase pressure as symptoms ease with time.
  • Rest your foot regularly.
  • Losing weight can help reduce pressure on the tissues.
  • Exercise – cut back or modify exercises whilst the problem is acute. Make sure you avoid hard surfaces if possible.
  • Wear appropriate footwear or consider insoles – give your plantar fascia a little support whilst it's struggling. Most running stores and pharmacies stock basic insoles or seek advice from your osteopath or podiatrist.

Why suffer in silence? Give us a call and we'll help you get back up-and-running before long. With the right advice treatment can be straight forward and quick.

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