What is it?
Plantar fasciitis is a condition affecting the long tendon like fascia that runs directly under the sole of the foot, running from the heel to the base of the toes. It is characterised by pain felt along the sole of the foot. This pain is typically worst of a morning and can feel better after a bit of a warm-up.
What is the Cause?
The Plantar fascia gets broken down when the stress on it is too great for the body to cope with. This may be due to an increase in total activity (like returning to pre-season training) or when it has to take more of the normal load than its used to (like a change in the way you walk/run or a new pair of shoes). As we get older our body has less ability to adapt to these subtle changes in load.
Can it be fixed? How?
Yes! The body has an amazing ability to adapt and change. The best course of action is to modify or manage how much activity you are doing, and gradually build up the tissue so it is strong enough to meet the demands you wish to place on it.
How does that work?
The plantar fascia is made up of strong fibres called collagen, which are damaged during exercise. in times of increasing demand on the plantar fascia the body lays down more of this collagen to make it stronger. When exercise load increases too suddenly, the body is unable to keep up, and instead of slowly building up, the collagen slowly gets broken down.
Do I need to stop running/ Exercising?
No! its important not to over do it, but it is also important to keep some exercise going, otherwise the plantar fascia won’t get stronger, it will get weaker.
How can a Physio help?
Physiotherapists will be able to guide you through a targeted exercise therapy program designed at building strength in the plantar facia. Your physio will also be able to guide and manage your exercise load through this period.
In some cases, adapting the way you move will help reduce the amount of pressure you place on the plantar facia when walking or running. This may be done through biomechanical analysis or by adaptive measures such as taping or orthotics.