Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammation of the plantar fascia – a thick, fibrous band of connective tissue in the sole of the foot that supports the arch of the foot. It runs from the ball of the foot to the heel, stretching to its limit when the foot is on the ground and supporting your full body weight. When placed under excessive stress, the plantar fascia stretches too far and tears, resulting in inflammation. The effects of the stress can build up gradually or be the result of a sudden occurrence.
The most common causes of plantar fasciitis include:
- Flat feet
- High arches
- Sudden increase in activity
- Increased weight gain, either from obesity or pregnancy; and
- Poorly fitting footwear
The pain is commonly felt on the bottom of the foot, where the fascia attaches to the heel. It is most severe in the mornings when getting out of bed because the fascia is in a shortened position at rest, and when you stand up, the sudden stretch and load of your body pulls on the attachment.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis vary from mild to severe. They can linger for months at a time, with pain increasing and decreasing in an unpredictable pattern. Often, discomfort may nearly disappear for several weeks, only to re-emerge full-blown after a single workout or change in activity. The pain may even temporarily “fade” as you walk.
Plantar fasciitis is a common injury runners experience and along with the causes listed above, can be triggered by a sudden increase in your training schedule or by switching running surfaces – especially from a softer surface to a harder one. While plantar fasciitis can be treated, it does not resolve quickly. It pays to review each of the factors and try to prevent its onset.
Dorval Physiotherapy in Oakville recommends the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) S.M.A.R.T. approach to prevent plantar fasciitis. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for Stretch, Move, Add it up, Reduce strain, Talk your physiotherapist at Dorval Physiotherapy and Wellness. At our clinic, patients have found this method provides the best relief of symptoms and prevention of further complications.
Stretch before, during (if needed) and after activity. Tight calf and/or hamstring muscles (back of thigh) limit range of motion and put extra strain on the plantar fascia.
For mild cases of plantar fasciitis, it may be enough to stretch more frequently, build more rests into your routine, and ensure you have good footwear. More severe cases may benefit from a heel cup or orthotics. In its most severe form, going barefoot is a poor idea – even in the house. Avoid worn-out shoes and try running on soft surfaces.
ADD IT UP
Add up all your symptoms. If there is tenderness on the inside bottom of your heel, especially when you first wake up in the morning, you may have plantar fasciitis.
Other symptoms can include:
- Diverse discomfort over the rest of the heel into the arch
- Morning pain and stiffness is frequent as well as having pain from standing after a prolonged rest. Symptoms often occur on one side – Early Stage: Pain after activity; Middle Stage: Pain during activity; Late Stage: Pain at rest.
Early management of plantar fasciitis is important. It can become chronic and may not resolve for a few years.
TALK TO A PHYSIOTHERAPIST
Dorval Physiotherapy in Oakville can provide physiotherapy treatment that can help the healing process by using cold laser therapy, acupuncture, ultrasound or electrotherapeutic modalities. Included in the treatments are techniques to release tight fascia, specific stretching exercises and, in the later stages, strengthening exercises.
Dorval Physio is also equipped to perform an in-depth laser foot analysis to determine whether orthotics would help your condition. A clinician will assess the footwear you use to determine if it is a contributing factor. Where analysis shows that an orthotic would be beneficial in correcting your foot problems, Dorval Physio can have a custom orthotic made specifically for your foot.