08 Feb Plantar Fasciitis : Advice sheet
What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a repetitive strain injury, usually felt as a sharp pain between the mid to inside part of the heel and arch of the foot. It’s at its worse when rising from bed or after a long duration of non-weight bearing, where the first few steps are very painful. Symptoms can resurface after a long duration of standing on hard surfaces and will present with a throbbing dull ache. The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue that stabilises the foot and keeps the bones and joints in position. Overstretching, repetitive over-use and bruising will cause microscopic tearing of the fascia, which will then encourage scar tissue to form. Scar tissue is non-elastic, making the fascia even stiffer and more painful.
Contributing factors to this condition are flat feet, being overweight, and poor fitting shoes with no arch support. Activities that can cause this condition include running, dancing, aerobics and occupations that require a lot of standing or walking on hard surfaces.
How will you be treated for plantar fasciitis?
A Sports Massage Therapist will carefully assess a tolerable level to begin breaking down the scar tissue and encourage the lengthening of the fascia and muscles of the plantar surface. They will also look at the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) as these share the same attachment point to the heel (calcaneus).
You will be advised to adopt a stretching regimen and possibly different footwear or orthotics.
What can you do to help yourself if you have plantar fasciitis?
Stretching your toes and calves for 30–45 seconds, 3–5 times a day will help to lengthen the tight fascia and muscles.
A little frozen plastic water bottle or frozen golf balls are great to roll under your foot as you can adjust the amount of pressure needed, which will help to stretch the fascia.
If you do have flat feet as a contributing factor, gathering in a large bath towel across the floor with your toes will help to build the muscles around the arch of the foot, which will slightly restore the arch profile.
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