As the weather warms up, people are being more active and start to wear flip-flops. This often leaves patients with sore feet limping into the office with Plantar Fasciitis. My goal is to keep people active and I hope this blog post helps you get rid of that nasty heal pain!
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis can often be a very painful and disabling condition of the foot. It is characterized by pain located at the bottom of the foot over the heal. If you have plantar heel pain there is an 80% chance it is plantar fasciits. The pain is often worse in the morning when taking your first steps and is also brought on by prolonged standing or walking. The condition often comes on gradually and is associated with tight calf muscles and Achilles tendons.
Often people will state that they have noticed over the past year or two that their arches have started to drop and their shoe size has increased by a half or even a full size. The long transverse arch of the foot is dropping and lengthening the plantar fascia ligament that spans across the arch from the heel to the toes. The purpose of this ligament is to maintain the longitudinal arch as you apply force through the foot when walking or running. As the arch drops, or over-pronates, the plantar fascia ligament stretches. In plantar fasciitis, small painful micro-tears occur at the heel attachment. Your body then starts to lay down calcium to strengthen the ligament and the last line of defense is for the heal to grow a bony spur into the ligament, causing a painful heel spur.
How to Fix Plantar Fasciitis
Conservative treatment is the most effective treatment, with roughly 90% of cases resolving in 6 months. Four basic conservative treatments are the answer:
1. stretching the calf muscles- Daily stretching of the calf muscles helps lengthen the connective tissues and take pressure off the arch. Hanging your heel off of a step while standing is a great way to stretch.
2. Stretch the fascia- Simply place your foot up the wall and lean into the wall feeling the arch expand and stretch.
3. Support the arch so it doesn't drop- The first step is to purchase some over-the-counter in-soles with an arch that fits into the arch of your foot. If this doesn't work, getting a health professional to assess and prescribe custom orthotics in-soles is a must. Research shows that if you do have a varus-type foot, orthotics are your best relief. Often taping the arch is a great way to temporarily relieve plantar fasciitis pain.
4. Strengthen the arch- There are four layers of muscles on the bottom of your foot. Three of these layers help support the arch. Any exercise that curls the toes up under your foot helps strengthen the arch. This can involve picking an object up with your toes, scrunching a towel up under your foot, or pushing your toes against a resisted band.
Please leave me a message if you have any questions regarding the exercises. You can also leave a comment anytime. Share this blog if it helped you are you feel it could help someone you know.
As spring arrives, patients start visiting our office with sore heels. Change of activity levels and the use of less supportive footwear are often the cause. Use these simple treatment options to help treat or even avoid plantar fasciitis, and then get out and get active!
Activity fact: The average person takes between 5,000 and 7,000 steps in a day!