I have had an influx of patients lately with plantar fasciitis so try to write about what it pertinent to my patient base.
What is it??
Plantar fascia is a connective tissue in the foot, which attaches to the inside of the heel (calcaneus) and extends to the bones of the toes (phalanges). This helps with controlling the arch of the foot and ensuring proper biomechanics of the foot. Whenever you add the ending ‘itis’ to anything it is inflammation of that structure, so plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia.
Why Does it hurt??
A good way to explain this is by imagining a rubber band going from the heel to your toes in the shape of your arch. When you are non-weight bearing it would make sense that the plantar fascia doesn’t have a lot of stress placed on it. But when you walk, that rubber band is stretched, pulling on where it attaches and that hurts! Frequently this condition hurts a lot more in the morning. This is because when sleeping, that rubber band doesn’t have any stress placed on it, so when initially walking on it, that shortened rubber band is being pulled when you step resulting in pain. After the plantar fascia loosens a bit after a few minutes, it is usually more tolerable.
What Can You Do?
There are many things that can be done to help this condition. The one I normally start with is manually loosening up the area. Although it can be painful when having it done, the patients frequently get symptom relief from this. It is also important to ensure that the joints of the foot and ankle are moving appropriately as to not put any added stress on the plantar fascia. Acupuncture and being fitted for proper orthotics have been effective in some stubborn cases as well. Although some patients prefer a passive form of treatment, it is also very important for you to do things at home to help for the other days in the week that you aren’t receiving treatment. A frozen 500ml bottle of water can be very helpful after a long day by rolling the bottom of your foot on it. It gives you the cold therapy to decrease inflammation and helps decrease some of the tightness. There are also some exercises that you can do to strengthen the smaller muscles in the feet to take some pressure off the plantar fascia.
I hope this was informative and if you have any questions about plantar fasciitis, make sure to contact us!