Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. 2 million Americans are affected by plantar fasciitis each year, with 10% of the population being afflicted at some point in their lifetime. The plantar fascia is a strong connective tissue that connects your heel to your toes. It can become painful and inflamed for a variety of reasons.

Becky Parr PT, DPT, CAFS

Becky Parr PT, DPT, CAFS

Risk factors:

  • Occupations that keep you on your feet such as factory workers and teachers
  • Age between 40-60 years
  • Obesity
  • Faulty foot mechanics such as a high arch or a flat foot, limited ankle mobility
  • Training errors such as increasing mileage too quickly.
  • Poor calf flexibility

Common symptoms:

  • Sharp pain at the bottom of the foot, near the heel
  • Pain that is worst with first few steps in the morning, or after prolonged inactivity (ie sitting at desk)
  • Pain after standing for long periods of time
  • History may indicate recent employment changes, requiring more standing, or changes in training for runners

Tips:

  • Get fit for over the counter orthotics at a specialty shoe store such as Fleet Feet.
  • Purchase a night splint such as a Straussberg Sock if you have consistent symptoms when you wake up in the morning
  • Wear the right shoes. Over the counter orthotics may even be necessary. Shoe specialists at running stores are trained to analyze walking patterns and can recommend correct shoe types for your foot.

Exercises:

  1. Water Bottle Roll: Freeze a water bottle and roll back and forth underneath your arch. Perform for 2-5 minutes, 2x/day.
  2. Short foot exercise: In seated position, place foot flat on the ground. Raise the arch of your foot without curling your toes or moving your heel. Hold your arch in the elevated position for 3-5 seconds and repeat 20 times, 1x/day.foot-1-editedfoot-2-edited

     

  3. Calf Stretch: Stand with your affected foot behind your opposite one. Point the toes of the back foot toward the heel of the front foot, and lean into a wall. Bend the front knee and keep the back knee straight, heel firmly planted on the floor. Hold for a count of 30. Repeat 3 times, 2times/day.
  4. Plantar Fascia Stretch: Sit down, and place the affected foot across your knee. Using the hand on your affected side, pull your toes back toward your leg until you feel a stretch in your arch. Hold for a count of 30. Repeat 3 times, 2times/day.

Plantar fasciitis is the most common foot condition treated in orthopedic physical therapy. A referral is not needed for treatment in Ohio. Click here to search for a physical therapist in your area.

References:

http://www.jospt.org/doi/pdfplus/10.2519/jospt.2014.0303

http://newyork-footdoctor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Plantar-Fasciitis.bmp

Becky Parr PT, DPT, CAFS is a physical therapist at Avida Physical Therapy. She graduated from the University of Dayton with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy. She has received advanced training in biomechanics from the Gray Institute and specializes in orthopedic rehabilitation with a special interest in lower extremity conditions.