What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The sun is shining and we are getting more and more beautiful days! We’re all eager to get outside and enjoy the weather. Unfortunately, in the coming few months, we physical therapists see more and more people complaining of foot pain. Oftentimes, the culprit is plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is characterized by pain in the heel and/or bottom of the foot; it can be experienced on one or both feet. There are many factors that may contribute to pain associated with plantar fasciitis including:
Tight calf muscles
Flat feet OR high arches
Increase in weight-bearing exercise program such as longer walks or more high impact activity
Anatomically, the plantar fascia itself is connective tissue that runs the length of the bottom of the foot. Some of the fibers actually blend into the Achilles tendon, thus connecting it to the muscles in your calf. This is why calf stretching is so vital! The plantar fascia plays an important role in stabilizing your foot while walking via what is called a “windlass mechanism”.
In order to prevent plantar fasciitis, you should be sure to:
Gradually increase your exercise program at ~ 10% per week
Stretch your calves after you exercise or after any prolonged period of time on your feet
Make sure you’re in a good, supportive shoe! Flip flops are not our friends!
If you are already experiencing plantar fasciitis, avoid walking barefoot (even in the house), stretch your calves, and try rolling the bottom of your foot on a frozen water bottle for pain relief. In physical therapy, there are many components to treatment that may include manual techniques (such as stretching, joint mobilization, and soft tissue mobilization), strengthening of both the small muscles within the foot and larger muscle groups such as the glutes and core, balance training, stretching, and modalities.
Stand with one foot in front, and one in back (back leg is the one being stretched); hands on a wall or something sturdy for support
Keep the back knee straight and the toes pointing forward
Lean forward until you feel a comfortable stretch in the back of the calf
Hold x 30 seconds and repeat 3 times
Physical therapists are well-equipped to diagnose and treat your pain, or refer you to the appropriate specialist if necessary. Stay well, don’t forget to stretch, and make time for yourself to be active. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at BHPT. We’re here for you.
(Photo from Medbridge Education)