What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue on the sole of the foot that runs from the heel to the toes. Some of the causes are, tension in the calf muscles or achilles tendon, poor footwear, overuse or increase in activity levels and structure or shape of your foot.
Plantar fasciitis presents as pain along the arch or bottom of the heel. It commonly feels worse after sitting for long periods (for example, after a long car ride) and first thing in the morning after getting out of bed. Usually the pain eases after a few minutes of being on your feet, walking or standing. But, in more severe cases the pain doesn’t go away and starts to hinder your daily life.
The first thing I look at when assessing a patient with foot pain is their footwear. Proper fitting and supportive shoes are key to helping treat this condition. Second, I look at their lower leg. Tension in the calf muscles and achilles tendons can be a big part of the problem. Lastly, I assess their foot structure and look for swelling or inflammation.
Treatment can consist of laser to the inflamed tissues, mobilization to the joints of the foot, massage and stretching of the tight muscles. An at home program is very important for successful treatment. This would include; rest, daily stretching of the calf muscles, massaging the arch and heel, wearing supportive shoes both inside and outside the home and application of ice. Finally, custom made orthotics can help by correcting foot imbalance and supporting the foot.
At home exercises for Planter Fasciitis:
Towel stretch - Sitting on a chair, wrap a towel around the ball of your foot and gently pull towards your shin until you feel a stretch. Or, sit on the ground with a straight leg and gently pull towards your chest. Repeat on opposite leg.
Calf stretch on a step - Standing on the lowest step, place the ball of your foot on the step and slowly lower your heel until you feel a stretch. Repeat on opposite leg.
Standing calf stretch - Position yourself in a door frame. Place an object under your mid foot to elevated the foot. Pull your body forward until you feel a stretch. Remember to keep you hip and knee straight. Repeat on opposite leg.
Wall calf stretch - Stand facing with wall with one leg behind you. Keep your back leg straight and heel to the ground. You will feel a stretch in your lower leg. Repeat on opposite leg.