Do you experience heel pain? Pain under the heel first thing in the morning? Heel pain that seems to go away as you warm up? These are some of the most common symptoms of plantar fasciitis or fasciopathy.
The plantar fascia is the structure underneath your foot that supports the arch. It is made up of thick fibrous material that starts at the heel bone and branches across the arch and the ball of the foot. Whenever you stand or walk, the plantar fascia stretches as your foot hits the ground.
Plantar fasciitis or fasciopathy occurs when the plantar fascia becomes weak, swollen and inflamed. This commonly results in pain at the heel where the plantar fascia inserts.
Activities that can lead to plantar fascia include:
- Repetitive activities such as a sudden increase in walking or running. Even prolonged standing can cause increased load and irritation through the plantar fascia.
- Poor bio mechanical factors including low arches, high arches or weak calf muscles can all cause an increase in force through the plantar fascia.
- Direct trauma or injury to the foot.
If you are experiencing plantar fasciitis, start by icing the heel regularly. You can also try self massage of the arch using a golf ball.
In addition to addressing the pain, it is crucial to address what is causing plantar fasciitis to fix the problem. When you start rehabilitation, you may need a period of rest from aggravating activities. Physiotherapists are well equipped to advise how much rest (if any!) is required. During the early stages of rehab, tape and strapping can be applied to your arch to provide support and minimise pain. During this time, you will be able to complete exercises to fix the associated issues that may have contributed to the problem coming on.
Once your symptoms have calmed down, you will be able to start strengthening the tendons and surrounding muscles. A great exercise for this is calf raises. Try standing up onto your toes for up to 12 – 15 times per day. Another important strategy to prevent plantar fasciitis is to maintain good calf flexibility. Try stretching regularly or even using a foam roller for a few minutes a day.
Remember, if you’re experiencing heel pain or plantar fasciitis, contact your physiotherapist. Our team of physiotherapists will help you reduce the pain and address any contributing factors to help keep you active and injury free!