Plantar Fasciitis – A Pain in the Foot!

Have you been getting out of bed in the morning, refreshed and raring to go, only to put your foot on the floor and feel a searing pain in your heel that makes you walk like you are 100 years old? If so, you may have plantar fasciitis.

This condition commonly causes heel pain when you first start walking, pain that gets worse the more you walk and, particularly if you are a runner or sports person, stops you doing what you love.

The plantar fascia is a ‘layer of glad wrap’ that sits beneath your skin and over the top of your muscles, ligaments and tendons. It acts as a gliding layer. Due to a number of reasons, this glad wrap layer or fascia can become inflamed and irritated, making you feel like there’s a red-hot poker under your foot.

Some causes of this inflammation and irritation include having flat feet; having short and tight calf muscles, having a bony heel spur that puts pressure on the structure, as well as weakness in your foot muscles and/or muscles higher up your leg.  Poor fitting foot wear is also a common issue.

But worry not!  Your pain and symptoms can be managed so they disappear. Your physiotherapist can look at all the possible reasons for your foot pain and help correct some of the potential causes. They may also work with a podiatrist if they feel you need orthotics in the long term.

In the meantime the following may help ease your pain:

  1. Before getting out of bed in the morning, pull your foot and toes up towards you, and then point them away. Start gently at first and then move through a bigger range as you warm up. Aim to do this for around two minutes. It helps get the blood pumping in your foot, and your fascia warmed up, before you stand on it.
  2. Devise yourself an ‘ice water bottle’. Place a small bottle of water in the freezer until it turns to ice.  Every one to two hours place the iced bottle under your foot (with a sock on), and roll it up and down for five minutes.  This helps massage the tight structures under your foot, but also helps reduce the inflammation causing some of your pain.

If you like walking you may need to either reduce your distance and speed in the first instance, or take a break for a week or two whilst your tissues try to settle.

There are a number of other things your Physiotherapist may get you to do to help take your pain away.  These may include massage, foot strapping and a walking assessment (where a computer image is made of how your foot moves).

The trick is not to put up with your pain.  It does not often go away by itself, and if allowed to progress plantar fasciitis can be quite debilitating and slow to recover.  So, jump on it!

Please contact your nearest Physiotas location if you think these symptoms sound like you!

About the Author:

Lisa Sanderson is a Physiotherapist at Physiotas on the North West Coast.