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Published May 8, 2020

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick fibrous band of connective tissue running along the sole of your foot. The plantar fascia connects your heel bone to your toes and creates your foot arch.

Why Is The Plantar Fascia Important?

Without it, we wouldn’t be able to move around. The plantar fascia acts as a shock absorber and helps you to walk. This ligament is important to keep the bones and joints in your foot in a position that enables you to push off the ground as you walk or run.

Plantar Fasciitis Vs. Heel Spur. What’s The Difference?

These two conditions are often confused. And for a good reason too. Roughly 50% of people with plantar fasciitis have a heel spur. Plantar fasciitis causes heel pain and can develop due to overuse, overloading, incorrect footwear, or certain medical conditions. A heel spur is a small bony growth extending between your heel bone and arch. It’s made up of a calcium deposit, and while it’s not necessarily the cause of heel pain – it’s often present when there is.

Plantar Fasciitis Causes

Plantar fasciitis is a condition that can feel like it appears for no apparent reason. However, some of the known causes of plantar fasciitis include:

  • Obesity. Too much body weight can put pressure on your heels and foot arch increasing the chances of inflammation.
  • Certain sports that over-stress the heel bone – e.g. running, weight lifting, and dancing.
  • Age can also affect severity.
  • Being pregnant can cause extra weight to be placed on the heel.
  • Having a flat foot or high arches will increase the chances of developing the condition if the right shoes aren’t worn.
  • Wearing shoes with inadequate support.
  • Spending a lot of time on your feet.

What Are The Symptoms Of Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis usually causes stabbing pain during the first few steps in the morning. This often decreases as you begin to move around, but it can return after long periods of standing or even when standing up after sitting for a while. The pain is felt at the bottom of your foot at the back of the arch near the heel. This pain is usually worse after exercising, but usually not during. Some of the common symptoms you may experience include:

  • Foot arch pain or heel pain which is worse on awakening
  • Sharp pain in the bottom of the foot arch or heel
  • Foot arch pain or heel pain after prolonged standing
  • Foot arch pain or heel pain after exercise but not during it
  • Mild inflammation

Your Best Plantar Fasciitis Treatment Option

When it comes to plantar fasciitis treatment, your best bet is to get in touch with a qualified physiotherapist. Physiotherapy plays an important role in relieving heel pain – preventing the recurrence of this condition takes a detailed knowledge of plantar fasciitis rehabilitation. It’s best to get treatment underway as soon as possible – the longer you leave it – the longer the healing process will take.

How Will A Physiotherapist Treat Plantar Fasciitis?

A physio will often prescribe specific taping to reduce pressure on the heel during walking, strengthening exercises, and a range of soft tissue treatments. As the pain begins to settle it’s important to remember that this doesn’t mean the problem is completely gone. More advanced exercises may be given at this point to continue to increase strength in the hip and calf muscles and to improve balance in the foot and ankle.

How To Treat Plantar Fasciitis At Home

While it’s always recommended to see a physiotherapist for professional advice, there are a few home treatments you can administer to help ease the pain and reduce inflammation:

  • Rest – reduce activity by at least 20%
  • Ice pack – 5-7 minutes is sufficient on the site of pain
  • Supportive shoes
  • Heels pads and arch supports
  • Pain relief medications

Exercises To Speed Up Recovery

Stretches and exercises are some of your best remedies against heel pain. Your physiotherapist may prescribe exercises to complete at home. These will help with the healing process and your physio will recommend targeted exercises depending on your circumstances. Some exercises that you may be prescribed include:

  • Toe curls
  • Toe extensions
  • Calf stretches
  • Calf strengthening with or without a towel roll
  • Arch rolls

Seek professional advice on which exercises are appropriate for your stage of recovery.

How Long Will It Take To Recover?

The majority of patients with plantar fasciitis will improve with time. How long it will take can vary depending on the severity. The average recovery is often 3 to 6 months for many patients. Patients with minor cases often recover within a few weeks. However, those who have had the condition for a long time can expect a longer recovery time of several months.

Is It Preventable?

While there are ways to minimise chances of getting the condition, sometimes despite best efforts it can still emerge without warning or reason. Because there isn’t a magic ‘cure’ to prevent the condition, your best bet is to be diligent with your exercise regime and be patient as you make progress and build strength in the affected soft tissues over time.

Start Healing: Book A Consultation Today

Starting your road to recovery will mean getting professional help to assist you with the right exercises, equipment, and knowledge to allow for a full recovery. Getting back on your feet will take time and patience – but starting sooner than later is always a good idea. Book your consultation today – speak to our team at Integrity Physio. We’re ready to help.

Leslie Trigg

Director & Senior Physiotherapist at Integrity Physiotherapy Leslie Trigg, has over 15 years of experience in clinical practice. He has graduated with a degree in Human Biology (Anatomy and Physiology) from Curtin University in 2001 and later completed a Masters of Physiotherapy in 2007. He has tremendous experience in musculoskeletal, orthopaedic, neurosurgical and sports physiotherapy. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, listening to music and spending time with his family.