Do you experience sharp pains in your heel when you first get out of bed in the morning? This might be a sign of plantar fasciitis, a common foot condition that occurs when the thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes and supports the arch of your foot becomes inflamed or irritated. The symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain in the heel or arch of the foot, stiffness, tenderness, and swelling. This can make it difficult to walk or stand for long periods, and the pain often worsens after exercise or prolonged periods of standing.
Plantar fasciitis can be caused by a variety of factors, such as overuse or repetitive strain on the foot, wearing shoes with poor arch support or cushioning, obesity, or having tight calf muscles. Biomechanical issues such as over-pronation or flat feet can also contribute to the development of this condition. Over-pronation occurs when the arch of the foot collapses, causing the foot to roll inwards excessively. This puts extra stress on the plantar fascia and can lead to inflammation and pain.
An analogy to understand this is to imagine a suspension bridge. The plantar fascia is like the cable that supports the bridge, and the arch of your foot is like the towers that hold up the bridge. If the cable is too tight or too loose, it can affect the stability of the bridge. Similarly, if the plantar fascia is too tight or too weak, it can affect the stability of your foot and cause pain and discomfort. By addressing biomechanical issues through manual and exercise therapy, you can help to improve the stability of your foot and reduce the risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
Manual therapy, which involves hands-on techniques like massage and joint mobilisation, can help to reduce tension in the plantar fascia and surrounding muscles. Your therapist can also use stretching techniques to improve mobility and reduce pain local to the area. They will also look beyond the source of pain at other regions of the body which may have contributed to the onset of pain. This may involve mobilising tight neural tissue such as the sciatic nerve or improve hip joint motion higher up the limb.
Exercise therapy is another effective treatment for plantar fasciitis. A skilled therapist can create a customised exercise program designed to strengthen the muscles and improve flexibility in the foot and ankle as well as correct deficiencies throughout the lower limb and pelvis. For example it may be weak gluteal muscles or an inability to stabilise the pelvis through movement that is creating to excessive loading issue in your foot. Hence it is always important to not just treat the local area and the source of pain but look beyond this as to other deficient areas.
Fortunately at Movement Therapy, when you see one of our movement therapists, you can receive both of these treatments. If you have these symptoms, or know someone who is suffering from this nasty condition, get in contact with us as we are able to help!