“OUCH!” Is no way to start your day. Sharp pain in the arch of the foot with your first steps in the morning is the hallmark sign of plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is quite common in people ages of 38 and 55 and it can be extremely frustrating. People can suffer for years because plantar fasciitis is quite misunderstood, even by many healthcare practitioners. But, there is hope. Working with a physical therapist who understands plantar fasciitis will not only help you avoid pain medications, injections and surgery, but get long term relief and even get better than before with your activities, sports or hobbies.
The foot is an evolutionary masterpiece of structure and function constructed of 33 joints, 29 muscles, 26 bones and many more ligaments and tendons. A core structure in the sole of the foot, the plantar fascia spans from the heel out to each toe and creates a spring arch. Its strong, fibrous connective tissue composition absorbs and redistributes energy through the foot, helping you propel forward to walk or run.
The reason that the plantar fascia can become painful is because it has endured some kind of excessive strain beyond its load capabilities. Although this can happen traumatically from one specific activity, plantar fasciitis pain most often occurs due to progressive, repetitive micro-traumas over time.
BUT WAIT! Don’t blame the plantar fascia so quickly for the problem. In fact, we should reward the plantar fascia for holding up most of the body weight impact loads all by itself for as long as it did. Remember those twenty nine muscles mentioned earlier? In most patients with plantar fasciitis those muscles are weak or even unable to activate to help carry any of the load. How do they get weak? We are a society that gets foot support from wearing shoes from an early age. And let’s face it, most people just ignore their feet until they finally hurt. Additionally, weakness and tightness in the lower leg and as far up as the hip can also contribute to excessive loading of the plantar fascia.
Unfortunately, most people are looking for a quick fix and believe that a cortisone injection or custom orthotics will solve the problem. Studies have shown that the risk of cortisone injections possibly damaging the plantar fascia outweigh the benefits. Further, although even basic over the counter orthotics can be helpful in the short term, they are really just providing more artificial support to a foot that is not functioning properly.
I know you’re thinking that with all of the intricacies of the foot that getting any relief is a daunting task. You’re right. it is. But with the right program to follow it is very possible to have long lasting relief and a stronger foot for an even better you.
Be careful with getting advice from Dr. Google or even your neighbor, unless they are a plantar fasciitis expert. (BTW, having plantar fasciitis does not make them an expert.) There is an overabundance of purported remedy tactics out there such as roll your foot over a golf ball or frozen water bottle, wear a night splint, stretch every hour, buy a certain shoe, get shock therapy, take a special supplement, pray to the foot Gods and on and on.
Some of these tactics might be helpful, but many people try one or two and don’t get results. Then they become a believer of the pervasive notion that there’s nothing else you can do but live with it.
What is truly needed is a real evidence based strategy instead of random tactics.
Our team of Physical Therapists are experts in providing a full assessment of all of the factors that are contributing to plantar fasciitis. They are skilled with manual treatments to alleviate pain, mobilize stiff joints and activate dormant muscles. Our PT’s will provide you with a customized stretching and strengthening plan so you can have resilient feet and feel better, move better and live better.
To get started on your road to ankle/foot pain recovery you can fill out this form to jumpstart the process!