01 Jun Plantar Fasciitis- What You Need To Know
Have you got foot pain and believe it may be plantar fasciitis? This article will explain the key things you need to know about the condition and how to fix it for good!
“The best way to get on top of plantar fasciitis is actually knowing what is causing it as no two cases are the same! This is why people swear by one thing, and others another thing. Everyone is DIFFERENT!”
If unresolved, plantar fasciitis may become worse and in some case more challenging to manage.
So what is likely to cause unresolved plantar fasciitis:
1. Waiting until the problem is a lot worse than it needs to be to seek help
- Poor information given about what is causing the problem
3. Outdated and ineffective treatment has been recommended
4. Treatment and rehab is incomplete or not long enough
Getting on top of it early and completing a rehab plan can get you back to full fitness, and to the point where you can be confident that it won’t come back again!
Keep reading for everything you need to know about this very common issue that we help people with daily!
Firstly, what exactly is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is an injury to the “plantar fascia”, which is a thick connective tissue underneath the foot. The plantar fascia functions to provide the foot with support, and to help us move. It lengthens and shortens like an elastic band with each step that we take throughout the day. Injury to the plantar fascia can occur at any point along its length, from right underneath the heel (most common), through the arch, and up to the toes.
How do you know if you have plantar fasciitis?
The most tell-tale symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain underneath the heel when you first get out of bed in the morning. Initially, the pain will ease as you walk on the foot (it “warms up”), but then towards the end of the day it will get worse again, particularly if you sit down and get back up again (think getting out of the car after driving home from work, or standing up again after sitting down to eat dinner- does this sound like you?!).
As symptoms go on for a longer period of time, the pain may eventually bug you for most of the day with minimal relief. If the pattern of your pain is different to this (i.e you DON’T have the pain first thing in the morning), then it may not be plantar fasciitis, and an assessment will need to be done to come up with an accurate diagnosis!
What causes the pain first thing in the morning?
Overnight while we sleep, or when we sit down to rest for an extended period, our soft tissues under our foot (including the plantar fascia) constrict! Our foot rests in a shortened position, so then when we put our foot down on the ground for the first time in a while, everything lengthens out which pulls on the point of pain!
What causes plantar fasciitis?
The cause of plantar fasciitis can be explained with a really simple concept. The amount of STRESS the plantar fascia is put under, has exceeded the CAPACITY of the plantar fascia to cope with that stress. This can be either due to a chronic stress over a period of time (work, lifestyle factors, weight gain) OR with a sudden increase in stress (increase in physical activity, changing shoes, changing jobs and all of a sudden being on your feet for longer periods of time). Every person’s contributing factor will be different, and identifying this is the key to successful outcomes.
Who gets plantar fasciitis?
Anyone can get plantar fasciitis, but we most commonly see it in people who are required to be on their feet for extended periods of time (e.g. teachers, nurses, hairdressers, tradies, retail or hospitality workers).
How do you fix plantar fasciitis?
If we refer to the concept described above, fixing plantar fasciitis requires us to firstly REDUCE THE STRESS going through the plantar fascia. We can do this in a few different ways, which depends on the severity of the problem and your lifestyle!
Option 1- We can reduce the amount of time we spend on our feet. This option is usually only recommended if the pain levels are severe enough that spending any period of time on our feet is not helping. This is rare, and it’s not usually a good option because we need our feet to be active and stay fit and healthy.
Option 2- We can strap the foot with sports tape. This option is often a first line treatment in cases that are new and where we expect the pain to improve quickly.
Option 3- We can assess and recommend new footwear. Your shoes play a big role in preventing and managing plantar fasciitis. The exact model of shoe that is best is going to differ depending on the person’s foot, activities and symptoms. Generally speaking, joggers (running shoes) are most helpful and should be worn most of the time while managing plantar fasciitis, and you should avoid being barefoot, wearing flat shoes or thongs.
Option 4- Foot orthotics. We specialise in the prescription and fitting of custom-made foot orthotics, which provide tailored support to your feet should you require them. These are very helpful in more chronic cases of plantar fasciitis, where options 1-3 haven’t succeeded or just won’t be enough. People who are very active and need to be on their feet continuously throughout the day tend to opt for orthotics as they physically can’t give their feet a chance to rest, and need something in their shoe to give them some extra help.
Once we have reduced the stress, we then need to IMPROVE THE CAPACITY of the plantar fascia to cope with the stress it receives throughout the day. This comes in the form of rehabilitation exercises and a tailored strength and conditioning program for the feet and legs.
Stretching the toes and calf muscles may be helpful in the short term to relieve some tension through the plantar fascia, but these things are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to rehab. We see most success in people who are engaged in full lower limb rehab including fundamental movement patterns such as squats, step ups and calf raises. If you develop a solid base of strength all the way up to your hips and core, there’s more muscles doing more of the work and helping to absorb a lot of the stress that goes through your foot! Not to mention strength training helps with weight loss and overall health and wellbeing which again reduces the strain through your feet.
What can you do for pain relief for plantar fasciitis?
There are a number of short term pain relieving strategies for plantar fasciitis, which include applying an ice pack to the area, taking anti-inflammatories, stretching the toes back, rolling a ball or a water bottle underneath the foot, or getting a cortisone injection. Unfortunately, none of these strategies address the cause of the issue and will only provide temporary relief. If these things are all that you have been recommended and you’re still in pain, then you need to try something different! It is OK to try these things whilst also performing strength and rehab, as adjunct therapies (but shouldn’t be the main focus!).
How long does it take for plantar fasciitis to get better?
Once you start working on your plantar fasciitis with pain relieving strategies, stress reducing techniques, and building some strength in the foot, you can expect to see positive improvements in pain within 2-4 weeks. For long term, meaningful success (pain relief to the point where you can be confident that it’s not going to come back), it may take as long as 12 weeks or more. This is what we normally recommend, as this is also how long it takes to develop decent improvements in strength with a rehab program.
Overall, the prognosis and success rate with plantar fasciitis rehab is very good. You just need to receive the right advice for you, and commit to a management plan understanding that it may not be fixed overnight. It is definitely not something that you have to put up with forever, and getting the help of a professional is something we would recommend. We are here to help!
If this has resonated with you then you will be glad to know we have created a tested system that gets results by focusing on the very important areas of early injury management and managing the areas specifically related to you in terms of causes.
If you are ready to see one of our team members and don’t want to wait any longer. Click below to make a time with one of our team members!