It’s a Monday morning. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the kids are still asleep. The world is your oyster, your training regime is going great and today is full of possibilities. You jump out of bed ready to take on the day, but as soon as your foot hits the ground, you realise that something is not quite right. What is this stabbing, burning pain coming from the bottom of my foot? Why is my heel sore? What is this madness? Your mind is racing yet you manage to trace your thoughts back to two years ago when your overly keen best friend described a similar sensation after running.. What did they call it?? That’s right… Plantar Fasciitis.
WHAT IS PLANTAR FASCIITIS?
The term plantar fasciitis is used to describe heel pain on the bottom surface of your foot. The plantar fascia is a tough fibrous tissue that runs from the bottom of your heel to the under surface of your toes. It has a number of important jobs to do during walking and running including load distribution, elevation of the arches and controlling joint motion. For the latin lovers out there, ‘itis’ refers to the inflammation of this tissue, hence the terminology “Plantar Fasciitis”. You may have also heard the terminology plantar fasciopathy which describes a chronic case of the same problem.
WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Now you know what it is, but why does this happen? Unfortunately, this is not always a simple question to answer as there are a number of different mechanical causes of this condition. These could include the following:
Poor localised strength in the foot resulting in flat feet or arch collapse
Stiffness in the ankle joint
Tight calf muscles
Poor Core strength
As you can see there are a number of biomechanical factors that can contribute to this frustratingly painful condition. However the cause doesn’t solely relate to your mechanics. There are normally lifestyle factors and bad habits that can also contribute to the development of this condition. This
could be an increase in body weight, a poor training regime or unsupportive footwear. If everyone who walked through door presented with the same cause of Plantar fasciitis, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog right now. I’d have cured the condition and be sitting on a Mexican beach sipping Mai Tai’s. Alas, this is not the case. Every presentation of this condition needs to be assessed on an individual basis and the cause needs to be identified so it can be quickly and effectively treated.
SO WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Answers. We all want them. As mentioned previously, you have to know the CAUSE to be able to effectively TREAT. This is where we come in. The Physio’s, Osteo’s and Chiro’s, the experts in movement. Through appropriate assessment related to you we can help identify to the cause and correct your biomechanics accordingly. However, there are some simple treatment techniques that you can implement straight away to help manage your symptoms and reduce your pain. These include:
Stretch your calf! Not the baby cow, those big muscles on the back of your leg
Massage your foot with a frozen coke bottle. Yep you read it right, this is a strange treatment technique that many of our patients swear by. The icing provides pain relief and the contours of the bottle provide a great massage surface for the bottom of your foot! (Side Note: Don’t drink it. That stuff’s bad for you)
Wear supportive footwear. Put your thongs to the side for now, as a bit of support can help settle your inflammation and pain.
Modify your training regime. If your pain is triggered by excessive running, reducing your
running load temporarily can be an effective treatment modality whilst correcting the
mechanics that caused it.
So there you have it. You now know what that pain in your heel is when you step out of bed on a Monday morning and how to effectively treat it. Getting on top of this condition early is key, and as always, we are here to help!
By Brendan Jones aka B.J.