I have had quite a few clients coming to see me lately with Plantar Fasciitis (pronounced Plan-Ter-Fash-Ee-Eye-Tus!) If you have been unfortunate to have this, you will know it is a really painful condition causing foot arch pain and/or heel pain. The plantar fascia is a flat band of tissue which connects your heel bone to your toes. Its job is to support the arch of your foot. If you overstrain this ligament it can become inflamed and then the pain starts when you stand or walk. Basically it is a Repetitive Strain Injury. If the ligament is repeatedly strained then tiny tears can result and then pain and swelling occurs.
You are more at risk of getting Plantar Fasciitis if:
- Middle aged
- Fallen arches
- Stand a lot
- Walk extensively
- Wear ill fitting shoes
- Have tight Achilles tendons or calf muscles – which can be caused by wearing high heeled shoes for too many years or due to posture.
The first steps out of bed in the morning are often the worst of the day for people with Plantar Fasciitis. Morning pain is a telling sign as to whether you have this condition. This can also happen if you have been sitting for a long time and then get up. Once you have taken some steps the pain can lessen but as the day goes on the pain may come on again. Standing may bring on the pain and climbing stairs.
No doubt about it, Plantar Fasciitis can be a stubborn condition to treat. No one treatment works for everyone. Some people recover fairly quickly, but some people find it can drag on. No one can promise a cure but here are some ways you can help recovery.
- Rest – this can be difficult as you have to get on with your day to day life, however, it is important that you need to cut back on the activities which caused the condition in the first place such as running, standing for lengthy periods of time, or extensive walking. The body is amazing and is self-healing but we need to help it along.
- Stretches Before Getting Out of Bed: When you wake up in the morning do some stretches. These first steps out of bed can re-aggravate the condition. Your body has been healing overnight. The best way to deal with this is to stretch your calf muscle BEFORE getting out of bed. This is because the muscles of the calf pull on the heel bone, which then tightens the plantar fascia. Keep a towel or belt near the bed and loop it around the ball of your foot. Keeping your leg straight gently pull towards your body until you feel the stretch in your calf. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat up to 5 times before stepping out of bed. Follow this link for detailed instructions. Follow this link for a YouTube video demonstrating the stretching exercises.
- Stretch the Fascia: simply pull your toes up with your hand until you feel the stretch along the sole of your foot. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat. Follow this link for detailed instructions:
- Stretch the calf muscles: Stand facing a wall, place your hands on the wall at eye level, put one leg behind you. Keep the heel of the back foot on the floor and bend the knee of the front leg until you feel a stretch. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat 2 to 4 times. Follow this link for detailed instructions:
- Avoid hard surfaces: try not to walk or run on hard surfaces. Give yourself time to recover.
- Book a Bowen: book a Bowen treatment and receive a full body balancing treatment including treatment on your feet. This cross fibre therapy will relax and release the fascia not only in your feet but in your calf muscles. However, it needs to be combined with the exercises and wearing good footwear.
- Flat Feet or High Arches?: People can have plantar fasciitis if they have flat feet but also it afflicts people with excessive arches so it isn’t always a ‘flat feet’ issue. However, a lot of people who have flat feet or excessive arches do not have plantar fasciitis so it is not a cause.
- Shoes: buy some shoes which have a good arch support, and a cushioned sole. What you wear on your feet has a massive bearing on recovery time. Here is a YouTube video explaining the types of shoes to wear. Basically an enclosed shoe with arch support, Velcro strap or lace ups are ideal, heel height 2 cms (not flat and not higher), a rigid shell (not soft fabric or ballet type shoes), something that doesn’t give way, with a stiff sole and generally supportive. We see a lot of women who wear the soft ballet type shoes with foot problems. Follow this link for a YouTube video explaining what to look out for in footwear.
- Golf Ball Treatment: find yourself a golf ball and roll it under your foot for a couple of minutes daily which will help to release the fascia. It will be tender so take it gently.
- Foot Support: you can purchase a sock or sleeve to support the foot and provide some relief. Follow this link for an example.
How long does recovery take:
It has taken a long time for the condition to get to this stage, and it can take time for the pain to go away. It can take a few months but it can take up to a year and in some cases even longer. Consistently following the above advice will help relieve your symptoms.
Please Note: This blog is for information purposes and is not intended to take the place of medical advice – if you are in any doubt always refer to your GP or medical practitioner.
Thanks for reading.
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