Heel pain and Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common causes of pain in the feet, particularly focused on the rear of the foot. The plantar fascia is a ligament that connects from the heel all the way to where the toes start, and plantar fasciitis is the term for inflammation and irritation of the plantar fascia ligament. Gait issues such as excessive pronation or supination (inward and outward roll of the foot) or repetitive heavy strikes to the heel (such as during running) are common causes of plantar fasciitis. This is due to the ligament being used to actually support stress and strain on the feet when walking or running. Other factors that can cause plantar fasciitis include the shape of your foot’s arch, an increase in activity level, and tightness in the calf muscles limiting the dorsiflexion (upwards movement) of the foot.

Some typical characteristics that can differentiate Plantar Fasciitis from other foot injuries is a gradual increase in pain, and an increase of pain in the morning, due to inactivity over the night. This means that the pain can actually decrease with activity, however this is only temporary as often there will be pain again post-activity.

Assessment for Plantar Fasciitis

As physiotherapists, plantar fasciitis is a common injury we can see, and while we assess the foot, we will often also do assessments and investigations elsewhere to see what may be influencing the plantar fascia irritation. Part of the assessment will include a biomechanical examination to see the foot’s range of motion. We will also look at your shoes, to see if there are any uneven wearing of the soles, as this can give us an idea of your walking patterns.

Treating plantar fasciitis

Some specific treatments for plantar fasciitis include taping of the foot to support the plantar fascia ligament and we can help demonstrate some self-massage and stretching techniques that can be used to manage plantar fasciitis. We will also use a combination of soft tissue therapy to target the foot, as well as muscles in the calves, legs and glutes which may be negatively influence the foot. We may even look at your back to see if that is having an impact on your feet.

We can also go through strengthening exercises, and if running is something that is causing the issue, a running assessment may be suitable for you so we can look further at gait and motor control. Sometimes we may also suggest the use of shoe inserts.

Extra information! Plantar Fasciitis can also impact women during pregnancy, due to the hormones that influence the elasticity of ligaments and increased over-pronation of the feet due to gait changes.

Products that may be useful for self-managing plantar fasciitis!

We stock some great tools that may be able to help you manage your plantar fasciitis at home, and also help stretch your foot before going out for exercise.

Some of our favourites include the TriggerPoint Nano Foot Roller and Trigger Point Targeted Hand Massager.

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