Plantar Fasciitis is a common condition that affects the heel and bottom of the foot, usually presenting pain in the bottom of your foot, around your heel and arch.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis is a common condition that affects the heel and bottom of the foot, usually presenting pain in the bottom of your foot, around your heel and arch. It is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a strong band of fibrous tissue that connects the heel to the toes . The function of the plantar fascia is to support the arch of the foot and to absorb and bear a large amount of load.

Why have I got Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis is often caused by a sudden change or increase in load on the foot, such as absorbing the shock that occurs when your foot contacts the ground.

This can happen if you start a new activity that puts more stress on the heel and bottom of the foot, such as running or walking on hard surfaces.

It can also be caused by prolonged standing or walking, obesity, high arches or flat feet or adapting too fast from supportive footwear to flat shoes or barefoot (i.e. if going too quickly into flip flops or barefoot in the summer). Wearing shoes with sufficient support and cushioning is important.

There are several other risk factors which may increase the likelihood of developing plantar fasciitis, which include:

  • Family history
  • Age (it is more common in people over 40)
  • Occupation (people who spend a lot of time on their feet)
  • Participation in sports that involve a lot of running or jumping

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis can have a significant impact on quality of life with severe symptoms that can interfere with sleep, day to day activities and hobbies.

Typical symptoms include:

  • Heel pain, usually worse in the morning
  • Pain that worsens with prolonged standing or walking
  • Stiffness in the heel and bottom of the foot

Diagnosis

A Physiotherapist, Osteopath or GP will conduct a physical examination as well as take details of your medical history and symptoms to confirm the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis and rule out other possible disorders. Sometimes an MRI or ultrasound scan may be indicated.

Treatments

Recovery will usually take several weeks but can sometimes takes several months depending on the severity of pain and how long the symptoms have been present. If diagnosed and treated early, the more effective treatment will be and the quicker the recovery.

Ice or heat?

In the first six – eight weeks you can apply an ice pack to the heel and bottom of the foot at intermittent intervals to help. If your symptoms have been present for over eight weeks, you may find that heat offers more relief. A hot water bottle is the perfect heat source to use but always apply it over clothes or a towel.  Alternatively, you can soak your feet in a bowl of hot water.

Pain medication

Over the counter medications such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen can be helpful in managing the pain. It is important to get advice regarding suitable medication from a GP, Pharmacist or well-trained Physiotherapist.

Rest

Whilst rest will not usually resolve plantar fasciitis, it will help your symptoms settle, so it has an important part initially. The pain may settle, but if you return to the previous level of activity, it is more than likely your symptoms will return.

Modify activity

It is important to rest the affected area from activities that increase your pain, but do not stop activity completely. We recommended engaging in alternative forms of exercise such as swimming and cycling to reduce the load on the plantar fascia.

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy

Also known as just ‘Shockwave Therapy’ and is a treatment we provide at our Clinic.  It is a non-invasive treatment that uses high energy sound waves to stimulate and accelerate the healing process and give pain relief to soft tissue conditions including Plantar Fasciitis.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) offers evidence-based recommendations for NHS users and healthcare professionals on the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions.  NICE guidelines recommend the use of Shockwave Therapy for plantar fasciitis and the evidence of its effectiveness is very good.

We offer Shockwave Therapy at the clinic and you can read more about it here.

Insoles or Heel pads in your shoes

A podiatrist can recommend insoles or heel pads and also the right shoes to wear.  Avoid wearing high, pointed shoes and going barefoot if you show signs of plantar fasciitis and seek advice.

Exercise

Exercise can be an effective way to help in the recovery process from plantar fasciitis. Regular stretching of the calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and plantar fascia can help reduce tension and improve flexibility. Low impact activities such as swimming, cycling, and walking can also be beneficial, as they help to increase circulation and reduce stress and strain on the feet.

Strengthening exercises for the feet and ankles can build up the muscles and help to support the plantar fascia. Additionally, wearing supportive shoes with ample cushioning and arch support can help to reduce the stress on the plantar fascia and aid in the recovery process.

Strength exercises

Hips:

By performing his hip exercise it will also slow the leg down from rolling inward, which will allow the pain and irritation to the plantar fascia tissue.

Lie down on your back with a resistance band around your legs and move the leg away from the body.  Always aim to keep the unused part of the body down the entire time.

Perform 1-2 sets for 10-12 reps on each leg.

Single legged Bridge:

By performing this exercise it will strengthen the glutes and entire leg muscles, which will ultimately relieve the pressure on the plantar fascia tissue.

Lie down on your back with your right leg extended to the height of the left bent knee. When ready rise upward and then return to the starting position.

Perform 1-2 sets for 10-12 reps on each leg in a controlled tempo.

Stretching exercises

Tennis Ball on Feet:

By performing this exercise it will help prevent the foot from falling inward and help rejuvenate the tissue underneath the foot.

Place the tennis ball underneath the mid-section of your foot with your heel down. Aim to keep the heel down and hold the tender spot for 20-30 seconds.

Perform 2-3 sets on each foot.

IT Band Stretch:

By performing this exercise it will help slow down the leg from rolling inward, which will reduce the pressure and inflammation towards the plantar fascia.

Lie down on the ground and place a foam roller on the lateral part of the leg. Always aim to have a straight line from your elbow down towards your feet. Find a tender spot and hold this position for 20-30 seconds on each spot.

Perform 2-3 sets on each leg.

Our Physiotherapists and Osteopath will be able to guide and support you with an exercise programme and also be able to identify any other contributing factors such as posture, biomechanics, and weaker areas that may influence your recovery.

Helping you live your healthiest and happiest life. Revival Health & Wellbeing Centre offers a variety of treatments, clinics, counselling and holistic therapies from our specialist team of practitioners.

Please contact us on 01386 792 126 to discuss your consultation.