Given your feet literally carry you through life, foot pain can be extremely debilitating. Luckily, in most instances, foot pain is also very manageable and physiotherapy can help.
Foot pain is often caused by damage to your plantar fascia tissue and this pain is called plantar fasciitis. Put simply, plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury – we go into detail below about this hard working band of tissue in our feet.
If you are experiencing foot pain, make an appointment to see how physiotherapy can help with plantar fasciitis; they will provide recommendations to help you get you back on your feet – literally! There are also things you can do at home to reduce your pain before you come and see us for help with plantar fasciitis – we’ve listed some below, along with some common causes and risk factors of the condition.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
Your plantar fascia is connective tissue found in the base of your foot that runs from your heel to your toes. Its main job is to hold the bones and joints in your feet in position, and it also supports both your heel and the arch of your foot as a shock absorber.
Common causes of plantar fasciitis;
- Certain types of exercise: doing high intensity exercise such as running or aerobic classes.
- A change in exercise type or intensity: starting new exercise such as hill walking or running, increasing the intensity of exercise or starting a new type of exercise.
- The wrong shoe: wearing shoes that don’t fit, or that don’t support your feet adequately, or have too much support for your foot type, may lead to extra pressure on your plantar fascia.
- Too long on your feet: just like spending all day sitting down, spending all day standing up is not ideal – it puts pressure on your feet and can lead to plantar fascia strain.
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is pain in your foot – it usually appears in the heel or arch of your foot. It may also lead to a stiff Achilles tendon or a swollen foot.
Am I likely to experience plantar fasciitis?
Risk factors that may mean you are more susceptible to plantar fasciitis:
- You have high arches or flat feet
- You are overweight or you gain weight quickly
- You are over 40
How can a physiotherapist help with plantar fasciitis?
Given that the tissue is buried deep in your foot it may seem trickier to treat but actually physio can help with plantar fasciitis.
The first step to physiotherapy helping plantar fasciitis is by treating the condition as soon as you start to experience foot pain.
At the first sign of foot pain, make an appointment with us – the quicker you see a physio to help plantar fasciitis the smoother your recovery will be.
What can you and your physiotherapist do to help with plantar fasciitis?
A physio helps plantar fasciitis by first getting an understanding of what is causing the pain; it may be recent changes to your training or work routine, or it may be a subtle change.
We will then work with you to identify any training or lifestyle changes you may need to make, and create a tailored exercise plan to get you back on your feet.
Before you visit us to see how a physiotherapist helps plantar fasciitis, here are some things you can do:
- Ice your heels: this reduces inflammation.
- Train less: temporarily exercising less gives your feet the chance to recover.
- Change your routine: if you are exercising on hard surfaces, swap the concrete for a rubber surface. Or swap running for swimming.
- Take inventory of your shoes: Do you need some new runners? Unsupportive or old shoes are a common cause of plantar fasciitis. However, new shoes that don’t suit your foot type can also put pressure on the wrong places. After taking inventory of your shoes, see your physio.
Along with the holistic approach, practical ways a physiotherapist helps with plantar fasciitis include:
- Foam roller: adding this to your routine – for your legs and feet – will help reduce heel pain. Not only can a physio help plantar fasciitis but we can also show you how to incorporate a foam roller into your routine.
- Calf stretches: your leg and foot muscles are all connected so stretching your calves will help reduce the risk of plantar fasciitis. Here’s how to calf stretch:
- Stand facing a wall with one foot in front of the other and both feet facing forward.
- Bend your front knee until you feel a stretch in the calf of the back leg.
- Swap legs, and repeat on the other side.
- Heel raises: this exercise strengthens your leg and foot muscles, providing added support to your plantar fascia. Here’s how to heel raise:
- Stand facing a wall, and place your hands on the wall for balance.
- Raise both heels until you are on your toes, and then gently lower back down.
- Repeat up to ten times.
- Footwear advice: A common misconception is that the more supportive a shoe is, the better. This is not always the case as shoes that do not suit your foot type can also cause plantar fasciitis! The good news is your physiotherapist can help you pick appropriate footwear.
If you are experiencing heel pain and wondering if a physio will help plantar fasciitis – make sure to book an appointment with the Physionorth team to see how we can help you with your plantar fasciitis, and get you back on your feet!
*All information is general in nature and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Physionorth can consult with you to confirm if this advice is right for you.