Resolving Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes (plantar fascia).

Plantar fasciitis commonly causes stabbing pain that usually occurs with your first steps in the morning. As you get up and move more, the pain normally decreases, but it might return after long periods of standing or after rising from sitting.

The condition is usually one that develops over time. It can be due to faulty walking, running, or jumping mechanics or repetitive activity. It is a common condition that affects athletes and non-athletes alike.

Some movements that can be painful with plantar fasciitis include running, jumping, squatting, lunging, lifting form the ground, and walking. Any sort of weight bearing activity may be aggravating.

In our physical therapy office, the first recommendation that we usually make is to take a short break from the aggravating activity. This allows for an environment for the inflammation to settle down and the fascia to heal. While taking a break usually helps with pain, we know for our patients to get back to the activities that they enjoy, we have to address the root of the issue.

In many cases, plantar fasciitis is coupled with poor mobility of the plantar fascia and the calf muscles. This can be combined with weakness or stiffness of the intrinsic foot (arch) muscles or stiffness of the first metatarsal joint (big toe).

In addition, if there are imbalances at the core and hip muscles, the way an active person moves can be affected which may lead to faulty running and walking mechanics. However, the only way to know what is contributing to pain and injury is to perform a complete assessment.

When pain and stiffness is found via the assessment, our approach includes manual mobilization to alleviate pain and improve mobility. Improvements can be made very quickly if the right regions are targeted. We can then reinforce gains through active mobility exercises. Other treatments that can be effective include taping and night splints.

If weakness is found, we teach activation exercises to help our clients better engage muscles that are not firing well. Once pain is controlled and muscles engage better, our next step is teaching our patients to develop stability though single leg exercises.  In addition, transitioning to a lower drop (0-4mm) shoe and practicing barefoot activity can be especially powerful for rehabilitating these types of fascia injuries.

When addressed with a through physical therapy assessment and plan of care, plantar fasciitis is a condition that can resolve relatively quickly. However, any sort of repetitive activity with poor mechanics can become a more serious issue with chronic pain implications. If you feel like you may be developing a plantar fascia problem, the physical therapists at Movement Solutions would be glad to provide a through assessment and give you a diagnosis for your condition. We are available for a free 15-minute phone consultation to talk about how your pain is affecting you and discuss your treatment options. Call us at (864) 558-7346 and ask how we can help.

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