By Nick Nyman, Physiotherapist

Plantar fasciitis, pain from the plantar fascia, can be extremely debilitating impacting your walking, sport, and quality of life. But what can we do about it?

What is Plantar fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is a strong ligament on the underside of the foot that helps to maintain the arch and shape of the foot. The plantar fascia can get irritated where it attaches to the heel causing plantar fasciopathy. It is important to know that this is a non-inflammatory response and as such does not respond to anti-inflammatory medications. Everyone is different and a Physiotherapist can guide you through your specific cause but the following are common ways of managing the pain and getting you back on track.

Relative rest

Overuse of your foot can cause Plantar fasciitis to progressively develop. It is important in the early phase to reduce how much work the foot is doing to allow pain to settle. Depending on the person this could mean a brief period of rest from sport, exercise, or certain activities. Rest is only temporary to control the symptoms and is followed by rehabilitation, excessive rest will lead to the plantar fascia getting weaker which is undesirable and can prolong recovery.

Plantar fasciitis

Rehabilitation

To encourage healing and recovery we must build up the tolerance of the plantar fascia. This is done through gradual strengthening of the area and a slow return to activities. Your physio will determine which muscles are requiring strengthening and provide you with a plan to progressively build them up as you recover. Rehabilitation requires a gradual increase in difficulty as your strength to the area returns.

Orthotics

The arch of the foot is supported by the plantar fascia, by helping support the arch with orthotics we can take some of the load off the plantar fascia. This is also the case with more supportive shoes like joggers. Avoiding wearing flats and avoiding barefoot walking can allow the plantar fascia to settle down paving the way for rehab to fix the problem. Wisdom sells a range of supportive thongs called Archies which can help in this process.

Biomechanics

The plantar fascia acts in ways like a shock absorber during weight-bearing activities. In some cases, the plantar fascia can be the victim of poor biomechanics rather than the problem itself. If the muscles of the hip, knee, and trunk are working improperly it can put extra load on the plantar fascia leading to pain. It is important when assessing the plantar fascia to examine the whole body and take a thorough history of past injuries to better understand the factors affecting the plantar fascia.

Holistic management

Your general health can impact the healing of the plantar fascia predisposing it to injury and limiting its ability to recover. Factors that negatively impact the plantar fascia include smoking, excessive drinking, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, steroid use, high cholesterol, and rheumatoid arthritis. Discuss with your physio to find out options to mitigate the effect of these.

If you are experiencing Plantar Fasciitis, don’t put up with it, call us to make an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists. Call (08) 6389 2947 or click here to book online

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