As the summer descends upon and the levels of exercise increase, so do the number of people complaining of a nuisance pain in the sole of their feet. More often than not, this is a result of the condition most commonly known as Plantar fasciitis.
Interestingly, in the past week I have witnessed 6 people hobbling around with the condition. Over 80% of whom weren’t aware of the benefits physiotherapy could have on the pain. So this blog aims to help advise you on the condition and how physiotherapy could help you overcome it.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Fascia is an extremely strong connective tissue that is found all over the body, in many different forms. It’s most common form are sheaths that surround muscles and ligaments to protect these tissues. The plantar fascia is a thickened sheet of fascia that sits on the sole of the feet and runs from the base of the heel to the base of the toes. When over-used, the plantar fascia can become inflamed and sore.
What causes Plantar Fasciitis?
The main cause of plantar fasciitis is it being over-used. This is often due to a lack of support under the arches of your feet, causing the foot to flatten and the fascia to be stretched and excessively overloaded. If this occurs repeatedly, micro trauma begins and the fascia becomes inflamed and sore.
What symptoms can I expect?
Plantar Fasciitis is most usually felt by a soreness or tightness felt on the underneath of the foot towards the arch or heel of the foot. This pain may be increased if the big toe is extended and the arch of the foot is palpated.
Unfortunately, there are other conditions that could be mis-diagnosed as plantar fasciitis, one being Calaneal Bursitis. These symptoms are slightly different and should be reviewed by a health professional to confirm the diagnosis.
What triggers Plantar Fasciitis?
Biomechanics: The anatomical positioning of the foot, ankle and lower leg is essential. A biomechanical assessment is key to determine whether the arch or foot position could be contributing to the injury.
Training Patterns: A sudden increase in training loads could be placing excess strain on the plantar fascia, therefore contributing to the increase in pain. A discussion with your physiotherapist could help highlight a more appropriate training regime to overcome the injury.
Mobility: Muscular tightness may be adding to the tension placed within the lower limb, affecting the biomechanical posture. A mobility assessment conducted by your physiotherapist followed by a mobility programme could be all that is needed to overcome the issue.
Footwear: Non-supportive footwear may not be helping. A number of people either purchase inappropriate footwear for their arch type or leave it too long before purchasing a new pair of shoes. In doing so, the arch support becomes worn down and therefore ineffective.
How can Physiotherapy help?
At Excellence Physio we don’t like to just treat the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis, but instead like to look at the bigger picture. We will conduct a full assessment, including a biomechanical assessment, a review of your footwear and discuss your training / exercise patterns. Following this, we will then offer a range of treatments to help reduce the pain and overcome the issue, ensuring that we focus on all aspects and aiming to reduce the risk of the issue returning. These include:
Manual techniques: Techniques such as mobilisations of the foot and ankle joints and soft tissue release of both the plantar fascia and surrounding muscles have been found to be extremely beneficial.
Electrotherapy: A technique used to help reduce inflammation and soreness of the injured area. Sources include Ultrasound or Laser therapy.
Acupuncture: Often overlooked in the treatment of Plantar Fasciitis, but we have found it to be extremely beneficial and a pain free way of reducing inflammation and therefore pain.
Gait re-education: By assessing the bio-mechanics of the foot and ankle, we can there see how this effects your walking style. An altered walking style will eventually put more strain on not only the plantar fascia but the other surrounding muscles. Correcting this can offload the plantar fascia and reduce the pain.
Orthotics or Foot support: Following a full bio-mechanics and gait assessment, the use of orthotics or a similar intervention can significantly offload the plantar fascia and quickly reduce the pain. A lot of clients find this is a quick fix for the pain before then undergoing a strength programme to naturally build the support required in the arch of the foot.
Home Exercise Programme: Following your full assessment, your physiotherapist will provide you with a series of simple exercises focused on overcoming and preventing your plantar fasciitis from returning.
If you have any further questions regarding Plantar Fasciitis or wish to see a physiotherapist for treatment, please contact us on 01572 720 491 or firstname.lastname@example.org.