Plantar Fasciitis: Healing and Prevention
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia (the sole of the foot) caused by a micro/partial tear. The plantar fascia is made up of a thick fibrous band of connective tissue that runs from the ball of the foot to the heel and supports the arch of the foot. When we are in a standing position, the plantar fascia is stretched to its limit, thus supporting our entire body weight.
Plantar fasciitis can occur when the plantar fascia has been stretched too far or placed under excessive stress for too long, resulting in micro traumas or tears. An inflammatory reaction follows, causing plantar fasciitis. The injury can be the result of a sudden occurrence or of stress build-up over time.
The most common symptom is pain in the heel region, which is aggravated upon weight-bearing. The pain will appear when arising from bed in the morning, but slowly subside to a more bearable level after 30 to 45 minutes.
What are the Risk Factors?
• Flat feet – which represent the majority of cases seen at our cliniques de Réadaptation Universelle – or hollow feet (in rare cases)
• Bad posture, which can be the result of a sagging arch or of “knock-knees” (where the legs curve outward)
• A job that entails a prolonged standing position and manual handling of heavy objects (ex.: warehouse and construction workers)
• Increased weight gain from obesity or pregnancy
• Loss of flexibility or thinning of the heel’s adipose tissue
• Wearing poorly fitting or overused footwear
• Practicing certain sports (ex.: jogging)
• Insufficient warm-up before a workout.
• Wear shoes that absorb chock and support the arch of the foot, depending on the type of work performed. You can also use insoles or heel heighteners (talonettes) to protect the heel
• Incorporate stretching and limbering exercises for the plantar fascia and calf muscles into your routine
• Wear shoes adapted to your sport
• Maintain a healthy weight in order to avoid overstressing the plantar fascia
• When in doubt, consult a health professional, such as a physiotherapist, who will be able to help you choose the right type of shoes and prevention activities.
Treatments at Cliniques de Réadaptation Universelle Include:
• Stopping or reducing any physical activity that requires weight-bearing; failing to do this could worsen the injury
• Anti-inflammatory and pain-reduction treatments, such as: applying ice, iontophoresis, therapeutic ultrasound or electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
• Stretching and strengthening the calf muscles and intrinsic muscles of the foot
• Manual therapy, joint mobilization and massage
• Taping the foot, which reduces tissue stress, decreases pain and reinforces the plantar fascia. This method also serves to evaluate whether or not the use of orthotics is indicated.
The Difference Between Pantar Fasciitis and Heel Spur
A heel spur is a bony growth that occurs at the attachment of the plantar fascia to the heel. It is often associated with plantar fasciitis, because it occurs as a result of chronic inflammation of the plantar fascia, which promotes the development of osseous (bone) cells, which in turn form a heel spur. The only way to confirm the presence of a heel spur is through an x-ray.
Plantar Fasciitis Prevention Exercises
Here is a preventive exercise you can do while awaiting your appointment with a therapist, or to halt the progress of plantar fasciitis:
1. Standing up, move the injured foot forward (see picture), while maintaining the forward knee slightly bent
2. Keep this position for 30 seconds, and slowly come back to the starting position; repeat three times.
Other exercises can help with plantar fasciitis, such as stretching the plantar fascia by rolling the foot on a bottle filled with frozen water, or resistance-stretching the muscles of the foot. Consult our professionals to get a complete exercise program.