About 10% of the population will suffer from Plantar Fasciitis at some point during their lifetime. That’s a lot of people!
Do only runners suffer from Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a common condition that effects the bottom of the foot. It’s the irritation of the plantar fascia – a thick ligament-like tissue on the sole of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is normally painful when walking, loading or stretching. Anyone can suffer from the condition, no matter if they are fit or unfit, if they play sports,or go for a casual walk now and then.
Why is PF such a big deal?
We all spend so much time on our feet that any problem with them can be severely limiting. You can cope with a sore arm by not using it, but it is very hard to not use your feet. If left untreated plantar fasciitis can lead to bony spurs developing where the fascia attaches to the heel.
Perhaps most importantly. untreated plantar fascia or any other foot dysfunction will in time create secondary issues. Many of you know exactly what I mean. Prolonged foot pain commonly causes knee, hip or back pain. There are several reasons for this such as limping, altered biomechanics (optimal use of the leg), muscle tightness and the chain reaction these cause.
In other words you cannot have perfectly good function in the rest of the body if even one joint is dysfunctional. Even long after foot pain is forgotten, secondary knee, hip or back pain can persist. Sometimes it’s very hard to get to the source of problems if your body has long adjusted to your new alignment caused by new “bad” biomechanics that help you to avoid original pain. Do not let that chain reaction develop.
Why see a physio?
Physios have a lot of success with treating plantar fasciitis by looking at the hip, knee and calf as well as the foot. They have the skills to asses and treat all these area and to guide you through progressive loading exercises. I believe physio’s have one secret – they look at the body as a whole.
Three tips for plantar fasciitis
- Pain on plantar fascia and calf pain are suggestive of plantar fascia. Normally pain is more significant on medial part of your foot (big toe side).
- Heel raise in shoes and ice massage are the greatest relievers.
- Stretching is not enough, you have to strengthen.
Let me go back to number 3. Stretching is not enough. Everyone I talk to that has been treated for plantar fasciitis says they have been given a bunch of stretching exercises. Why in my opinion is this not enough? The plantar fascia is made to support your foot arch. But it is backed up by a number of muscles that help share the load. It needs to be strong enough to support the load of your body while you walk, run or jump. Progressive strengthening is the only way to get you back to those activities.
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