Have you ever had heel pain? Have you ever had a relative or friend complain about heel pain? It is more common than you think! It is often a source of pain in runners, as well as those in the general community who are on their feet all day.
What is it?
Plantarfascitis is inflammation of the tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes within your foot. The plantar fascia is very important for shock absorption during exercise and supporting the arch of the foot. A common symptom of this condition is heel pain when walking or stabbing pain first thing in the morning. Symptoms may resolve with movement and stretches, however they often return when standing on your feet for long periods of time.
The cause for plantarfascitis is often unclear, but you may have contributing factors that occur within your daily life. Repeated stretching, stress or load may irritate the plantar fascia, which is thought to be the main cause of inflammation.
Although plantarfascitis can develop with insidious cause, there are some risk factors to be aware of:
- Age: Plantarfascitis is most common in people aged 40-60
- Types of exercise: Activities involving repetitive strain or load to the tissue such as long-distance running or dance
- Change in surface: If you work on hard or cement surfaces, you may be more prone to increased stress on the plantar fascia
- Biomechanics: Foot design, walking pattern and arch support, all significantly affect how forces are distributed within the foot when standing, walking and running
- Occupation: Job descriptions that require workers to stay and work on their feet all day are at an increased risk of plantarfascitis due to the repetitive strain on the tissue
What can I do?
- Invest in supportive shoes: purchase an adequate pair of shoes with good arch support and additional heel cushioning
- Change sport impact: Avoid excessive walking, running or standing for long periods of time
- Rest, ice, compression and elevate: Plantarfascitis is an inflammatory response and will respond well to ice alongside rest, elevation on a pillow and compression in the early stages of injury. A spikey ball massage rolling along the bottom of your foot can also assist in relieving symptoms
- Arch or Heel Support: There are various heel and arch supports available for purchase from a physiotherapist and podiatrist to off-load the forces of the foot and enable you to walk with reduced pain
- Medication: Paracetamol or anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen can assist in reducing inflammation
- Regular stretching: Participating in regular stretching can often be a source of pain relief aside from massage and other modalities