Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes (plantar fascia).
It is normally characterised by heel pain that is worse in the morning with those first few steps out of bed. It may go away once you are up and moving. Plantar fasciitis has a “warm up effect” meaning it hurts more after periods of inactivity like sleep or sitting down for an extended period, and then it improves the more you walk around.
Your Physio may ask questions around a change in activity level (have you recently started running more or have you decided to take up a new sport), recent changes to your footwear or a recent increase in weight.
Who is at risk?
Although plantar fasciitis can develop without an obvious cause, some factors can increase your risk of developing this condition. They include:
- Prolonged standing (EG: having an occupation that requires standing all day)
- Certain types of exercise (EG: long distance running, ballet, and high impact exercise)
- Age: most common between the ages of 40 and 60
- Foot mechanics: flat feet or a high arch
- Increased body weight
How can physiotherapy help?
Although plantar fasciitis can sometimes be stubborn to treat, the quicker you begin treatment the quicker the recovery. There are numerous treatments a physiotherapist may use to help with plantar fascia pain.
The first line of action is generally providing you with education around activity modification, changes to habits and managing your load. This alone can reduce your symptoms significantly.
Other modalities that may be used include:
- Stretching tight structures such as plantar fascia and lower calf muscles
- Low dye taping to support the arches of your foot
- Fitting of orthotics
- Manual therapy/massage or dry needling
- Strengthening exercises. Both directly for the plantar fascia but also identifying weakness in other areas of your lower limb or biomechanical issues which may be causing an overload of your plantar fascia.