What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis (also known as Policeman’s heel or Jogger’s heel) is a disorder of the connective tissue or fascia that supports the arch of the foot. 

Plantar fascia is a band of tissue that runs under the foot and connects the toes and heel bone. When this fascia becomes too tight, it can pull against your heel causing micro tears, breakdown of collagen and scarring of the fascia. 

When someone has Plantar fasciitis, they would tend to experience symptoms being a sharp pain in the heel of the foot which radiates along the bottom of the inside of the foot. The pain here is often worse in the morning, after periods of sitting and when walking upstairs. 

Ignoring plantar fasciitis can result in chronic heel pain that hinders your regular activities. Also, you will likely unintentionally change your walk to try to avoid the pain, which could then lead to foot, knee, hip or back problems. 

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

The direct causes of Plantar fasciitis are unclear but risk factors include:

  • Overuse or an increase in exercise. 
  • Age (most common in ages 40-60)
  • Weight gain (including pregnancy)
  • Short and tight lower leg muscles
  • improper footwear
  • Foot mechanics:

It is often thought that if someone has a flatter foot, they would be more susceptible to experiencing Plantar Fasciitis. For example, someone with flatfoot (hyper pronation) naturally will be stretching their plantar fascia and therefore could cause pain there due to the repetitive tension causing inflammation and/or irritation. However, this can also be argued because someone who has a high-arched foot (supinated) would also be susceptible as their foot would be relatively rigid. Therefore, movements that would generally be absorbed through the movement of the foot and ankle are transmitted to the plantar fascia and lower leg. (This is why Plantar fasciitis and shin splints often come hand in hand).

How Do You Treat Plantar Fasciitis?

There are a few ways of treating someone with Plantar fasciitis. The main focus is to release the plantar fascia of any restrictions it has. We can do this using vacuum cupping, deep tissue massage and myofascial release.  Plantar fasciitis can also be treated by treating trigger points in the lower leg muscles. Trigger points in these muscles can cause referral pain in this area of the foot. For example, trigger points in the Gastrocnemius and Soleus (calf muscles) refer to the sole of the foot (please see the below diagrams).

Working to correct improper biomechanics of the foot through joint manipulation and mobilisations can also help to alleviate the stress on the plantar fascia. 

Taping can also be useful to help support the arch of the foot.  

How you can help yourself?

  • Rest– Give yourself an adequate amount of time to rest and recover from the injury and reduce participation in the activities that caused the foot to hurt.
  • Ice- to help reduce the pain.
  • Get new shoes– make sure they have a cushioned sole and good arch support.
  • Get some treatment– manual therapy can be very useful to stretch the plantar fascia.

There are some exercises and stretches you can do to help reduce the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Please see a few below:

One option is using a ball under the foot and rolling it over the plantar fascia. You can do this both sitting or standing. 

Alternatively, stretching can also be very beneficial. For example, stretching the plantar fascia of the foot (please see diagram below). Although it is important to be mindful of how long/often you hold this stretch as it can cause an adverse effect if done incorrectly.

If you have any further questions regarding plantar fasciitis or would like to book in for treatment please give us a call on 01702 342329.