By Jon Paryz, PT
Starting the day off with sharp, stabbing pain in the heel or arch is the signature symptoms of plantar fasciitis. The majority of cases resolve with some rest and basic treatment, such as stretching and massage, but if these treatments have failed the search for a solution can be difficult.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar refers to the bottom of the foot, and fascia is a connective sheath, which in this case runs from the heel to the ball of the foot and helps support the arch. Repetitive micro-trauma to the fascia results in scar tissue being formed, changing the make-up of the connective tissue causing chronic or persistent heel or arch pain.
Plantar fasciitis is usually not an acute inflammation of the tissues, but rather a syndrome with several contributing factors.
Why does Plantar Fasciitis occur?
Micro trauma and stretching usually happen when too much stress and too much motion occur at the same time. For example, tightness in the calves combined with over pronation of the foot.
There are many possible reasons this happens, and usually a combination of the following can initiate the injury process:
•increase in training (speed or mileage),
•increased stress on calf muscles (change in shoes, hill or speed work, change in running style),
•poor foot biomechanics,
•other leg weaknesses (often the hips)
3 Steps to Banishing Plantar Fasciitis
1.Decrease the pain to allow for movement. This can be done with icing, heating, taping, massage, dry needling or medicines. Rollers, golf balls and other self-care tools should be used with caution to avoid causing further irritation of the tissues. Not all pain is gain. Shoe inserts to support the arch, or correct foot alignment issues, can also be helpful.
2.Identify and strengthen the weak links in the lower kinetic chain by working closely with specialists. A customized program incorporating eccentric exercises will strengthen the muscles, reduce stress on the fascia and prevent recurrences.
3.Finally, examine your movement. Make sure your running or walking form is correct and address any other possible contributing factors (as listed above).
There will usually be some bumps in the rehab process but with a better understanding of the complexity of the issues, some patience, and the correct treatment approach, plantar fascial pain does not have to be a chronic problem.
At StayStrong, Jon can help you recover from plantar fascial pain and even prevent its occurrence. Video running or gait analysis, movement screens and assessment of your foot type and running shoes can all aid in the process. Finding any areas of imbalance or weakness in the lower extremity and prescribing the proper exercises to correct them is crucial. Finally, we can make adjustments to your shoe inserts or cast you for orthotics which will help control your foot’s motion leading to less pain and more efficient movement. Feel free to contact Jon with any questions and to see if you would benefit from a PT session.