What is Plantar Fasciitis and Plantar Fasciopathy?

Plantar fasciitis is a common foot condition that involves the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs underneath the bottom of your foot. The plantar fascia connects your heel bone to your toes, and its fibers blend with the Achilles and calf. Plantar fasciitis, now more commonly referred to as plantar fasciopathy, occurs when the plantar fascia becomes overloaded and commonly results in heel pain, especially during the first steps in the morning or after prolonged periods of rest.

How can Physio Help?

There is no cookie cutter approch to fixing plantar fascia pain, and as such a myriad of approaches may be taken by your treating physiotherapist. Generally speaking though, the aim is to de-load the plantar fascia tissue. This is done by taking the pressure off it so it can recover and the factors causing it to become overloaded can be addressed. Assessment usually involves checking your gait pattern, foot arch type, and for foot, ankle and calf muscles and joints that may be stiff or weak. Physiotherapy can be beneficial in managing plantar fasciitis through a variety of interventions. Here are some ways in which physiotherapy may help:

1. Stretching and Strengthening Exercises

Stretching exercises: Physiotherapists often prescribe specific stretching exercises to help alleviate tension in the plantar fascia and calf muscles. They can also be used to add appropriate load that may, over time, stimulate strengthening and healing of the plantar fascia

Strengthening exercises: Strengthening the muscles of the foot, arch, and lower leg muscles can help provide better support to the plantar fascia. This may involve exercises targeting the intrinsic foot and calf muscles.

Manual Therapy and Taping/Strapping

Manual therapy: Physiotherapists may use hands-on techniques such as massage and manipulation, aiming to ease symptoms in the foot and calf area.

Taping and strapping: Your physiotherapist may use taping or strapping techniques to support the foot’s arch and reduce stress on the plantar fascia. This can provide temporary relief and assist in the healing process also. Alternatively, generic or custom orthotics or heel raises may also be used in attempt to correct identified biomechanical overload issues.

Walking/Running Analysis

Gait analysis: Your physiotherapist may analyze your walking and running patterns to identify any abnormalities that may be contributing to your plantar fascia pain presentation. They can then provide guidance on modifying your walking pattern and other possible hip, knee and core weaknesses which may need addressing.

Education and Lifestyle Modication

Education and lifestyle modification: Your physiotherapist can also teach you about which types of footwear may be best for your foot and arch shape, foot care, and lifestyle modifications to prevent and manage your heel pain. This may include advice on choosing supportive shoes and avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms. Progressively increasing the load on your plantar fascia, over time, is also important once it starts becoming pain-free. Advice around this helps ensure you avoid re-exacerbating your pain as you get back into more everyday activities and sports.

Conclusion

It’s important to note that the recovery timeline from plantar fascia pain can vary significantly, with some cases lasting only a few weeks and others lasting up to 12 months or more. As such, the sooner you seek treatment for your plantar fascia pain, the better the chance of a shorter recovery.

If you’ve been experiencing nagging heel pain, that’s sore the first few steps out of bed in the morning, schedule with your physiotherapist today.

 

For more information or to make a booking with one of our male or female senior physiotherapists please visit www.myplacephysio.com.au, call us on 0420 860 797, or use the ‘Book Now’ button below.

Jacob Taylor
MyPlace Physio Director and Lead Physiotherapist

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References

Harvard Health Publishing. (2021). The importance of warming up and cooling down. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-warming-up-and-cooling-down

American College of Sports Medicine. (2021). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (Tenth Edition). Wolters Kluwer.

Sports Medicine Australia. (2021). The Importance of Warm-Up and Cool Down in Physical Activity. https://sma.org.au/resources-advice/injury-fact-sheets/warm-up-cool-down-fact-sheet/