What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the most common form of heel pain. The plantar fascia is a thick band that runs across the bottom of the foot from the heel to the toes that helps to create the foot’s arch. Plantar fasciitis or “policeman's heel” is the inflammation of this tissue due to microscopic tears, degenerative changes or thickening of the plantar fascia. The most common symptom is sharp pain at the heel that is more prevalent during the first few steps in the morning or after prolonged sitting. More than 1 million persons per year are affected in both athletic and sedentary populations.
What causes Plantar Fasciitis?
There are several risk factors for plantar fasciitis including anatomical, functional and overuse categories.
Anatomical: flat or high foot arches, obesity, leg length discrepancies (one leg is longer than the other), poor alignment of your hips/knees/ankles
Functional Factors: tightness in calf and achilles tendon
Overuse: mechanical stress on feet, inadequate footwear, increased standing or running
How do I prevent Plantar Fasciitis?
In simple terms, you can prevent plantar fasciitis by avoiding or minimizing the risk factors as listed above. A consistent stretching program to maintain mobility in your legs, especially calves, hamstrings and hip flexor muscles can reduce the pressure on the plantar fascia. Wearing supportive footwear is important to provide foot stability in order to improve lower extremity alignment. It is recommended that you replace your shoes every 6 to 12 months dependent upon use.
How do you treat Plantar Fasciitis?
● RICE: In the acute (0-4 days) or beginning phase of plantar fasciitis, initial treatment upon first symptoms is to Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate (RICE) especially when you are sore or after activity.
● Foot orthotics or night splints can help to reduce pressure on the plantar fascia and improve alignment to prevent further stress.
● Complete self-massage by rolling the bottom of your foot over a tennis ball or golf ball. (See Stretching and Self-Myofascial Release)
● Stretches for the calve muscles and plantar fascia can improve your range of motion and mobility in your ankles.
● Anti-inflammatory medication, corticosteroid injections or surgery may be indicated, please refer to your primary care provider.
● See a physical therapist for a personalized treatment program!