The plantar fascia is a thick ligament that connects the heel bone to the toes creating the arch of the foot and acting as a shock absorber. This mechanical linkage extends into the five bands inserting into the base of each toe. The plantar fascia is influenced by several factors including arches that are too low resulting in too much motion or high arches resulting in too little. An overused and tight plantar fascia can cause small tears resulting in inflamed and swollen tissue causing pain in the heel or bottom of the foot.
What are the risk factors for plantar fasciitis?
Risk factors including running athletes, prolonged weight bearing, obesity and limited ankle mobility. Additionally, occupations that require long periods of standing and walking can increase the risk to develop plantar fasciitis. This risk further increases through excessive pronation (rolling the foot inward), having tight calf muscles or wearing worn shoes.
What Are The Symptoms?
- Pain in the bottom of the foot near the heel when weight bearing
- Pain aggravation during the first steps after awakening or long periods of sitting.
What Are The Treatment Options?
- Rest and avoidance of aggravating activities that cause heel pain.
- Wear shoes with relevant arch support that provide good shock absorption
- Laser Therapy to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Active Release Techniques and Graston Technique to the plantar fascia to break up scar tissue and release muscle adhesions
- Exercise rehabilitation that focuses on regaining pre-injury strength, range of motion and stability
The exercises to prevent or improve plantar fascia should focus on strengthening and stretching the toes, feet and lower leg muscles, especially the achilles tendon. Self-myofascial release techniques such as foam rolling and massaging your feet with a lacrosse ball on a regular basis, wearing support footwear and staying at a healthy weight can further help reducing the stress on your feet. If you are a runner with plantar fasciitis, try to alternate running with sports that place less stress on your feet such as swimming or cycling.
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