Pain in the feet comes in many different forms – however there is one condition, plantar fasciitis, that is surprisingly common. It is one of those injuries that many people have never heard of until they experience it themselves, only to discover there are many other sufferers out there.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia on the underside of the foot.
It is usually a result of overstretching or overuse.
It presents as pain in the arch and/or heel of the foot.
It is commonly more painful first thing in the morning, easing throughout the day as you move around because the fascia at the bottom of the foot stretches out. It can then start to become more painful again towards the end of the day with overuse and stretching.
Triggers for Plantar Fasciitis:
- It can be caused by a change in activities and increased impact volume on the foot. This may include loading up the foot too quickly playing sports, placing stress on the heel bone. This may be running, climbing hills, overpronation of the foot or simply being middle-aged and getting older.
- Plantar Fasciitis tends to be more common with ageing, as muscles supporting the arch of the foot become weaker, putting stress on the plantar fascia.
- It can also become a problem when people change to less supportive shoes – such as in the summer holidays and do a lot of walking on the beach.
What goes wrong and why does this happen?
‘Plantar’ refers to the sole of your foot, and ‘Fascia’ is the name for the thick tissue that maintains the arch.
When the foot is given more load than it can tolerate, the fascia becomes overloaded and becomes inflamed and painful. Overnight, when the foot is resting the fascial tissue tightens up, and inflammation builds. When you rise in the morning, the pain can be excruciating but as you get moving the tissue will loosen and the pain subsides.
Often Plantar Fasciitis can take a long time to settle down. Once it has set in, the tissue becomes very sensitive to overload from weight-bearing, so even lesser impact activities can trigger it. Treatment can be a balancing act and is often a fine line between doing too much but enough to keep progressing.
3 tips that will help injury-proof yourself
- Keep your feet, ankles and calves strong, maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in some impact activity consistently.
- If you wish to start an exercise program, even a walking program, start gradually. This is different for everyone, but the general rule is to make your first few sessions about 70-80% of your maximum capacity. Have a day of rest between days of increased activity and use the 10% rule (increase load or volume by no more than 10% each week).
- Always make sure you wear well-fitting shoes, with good arch support, that are no more than 12 months old if you use them regularly.
Try these exercises to keep your fascia supple and your calves strong:
- Stand an arm’s length from a wall.
- Place your right foot behind your left.
- Slowly and gently bend your left leg forward.
- Keep your right knee straight and your right heel on the ground.
- Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
Plantar Fascia stretch:
- Stand up straight facing a wall.
- Place the toes of your affected leg on the wall.
- Keep your heel on the floor.
- Keep your knee straight and bring your hips towards the wall.
You should feel a stretch down the back of your calf.
- Hold this position for 20- 30 seconds.
- Start in a standing position with your feet at hips-width apart.
- Keeping your knees straight, lift both heels and rise on to your toes.
- Return to the starting position, controlling the movement as you lower your heels to the ground.
Hope this helps (and come as see us if it’s an ongoing concern), Deb.