What is the Plantar Fascia?
The plantar fascia is the thick and strong piece of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. It begins at the base of the heel bone and runs along to the toes – creating the foot’s arch.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis / plantar fasciopathy is ‘inflammation’ of this tissue. The irritation is usually through overstretching of the fascia or overuse of the structures along the base of the foot.
What are the common causes?
- Repetitive actions that put stress on the heel bones eg running
- Prolonged periods of time standing
- Wearing shoes with poor arch support or rigid soles
- Excessive pronation or ‘flat feet’ – where the ankle collapses inwards and puts excessive strain on the plantar fascia
- Excessive supination or high arches
- Overweight or pregnancy increasing weight load
An easy way to think about it is: The “terrible too’s”…
- Too much
- Too soon
- Too often
- Too many changes
- With too little rest
What are the common symptoms?
- Pain directly under the heel
- Pain can be sharp with initial weightbearing or dull with overuse
- Tightness, aching or burning sensations along the sole of the foot
Pain is often worse first thing in the morning with the first few steps out of bed, after prolonged standing or after intense activity.
What can you do about your plantar fasciitis?
- See a physiotherapist for pain relief and to gradually progress you through a rehab program
- Stretching and strengthening exercises – see our guide below!
- Relative rest (avoid the repetitive activity that may be causing your pain)
- Ice the heel and sole of foot
- Choose shoes with good support and correct cushioning
- Trial gel heel inserts
1. Plantar Fascia Stretch and Strengthen
1. Grip the base of the toes at the bottom of the foot and pull toes back towards the shin until a stretch is felt along the arch of the foot
2. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat x 10
Toe scrunch and splay
1. Spread toes open and wide before scrunching together and towards the heel
2. Repeat x 10 – can use a length of theraband for this
2. Gastroc and Soleus Muscle & Achilles tendon stretch
1. Stretching gastrocs of the leg at the back, keeping heel on the floor push knee straight
2. Stretching the achillies of the leg at the back, keeping heel on the floor drive the knee forward towards the front leg
3. Calf raises with toes elevated
1. Stand with toes on a rolled towel so toes are elevated
2. Raise heels off ground into calf raise
3. 3 seconds up, 2 second hold at top and 3 second lower down
1. Use a spikey or trigger point ball to place pressure and roll along the arch of the base of the foot
2. Grade the weight you place through the fascia by sitting (less) or standing (more pressure) and roll from heel to toes
What about Orthotics?
Orthotics can be a very effective way to help relieve your heel pain. How? – Lifting your arch can alter load away from the overloaded and sensitised tissues temporarily
They don’t correct poor biomechanics such as excessive pronation – this is where active strengthening can be more beneficial to lift and strengthen the arch long term