Have you been dealing with pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel?
Is the pain usually worst taking those first few steps in the morning?
Is it trigger by long periods of standing or when you get up from sitting?
Chances are you have plantar fasciitis.
Or have you already been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and just can’t shake it off?
Nothing works to help with the pain?
Well you’ve come to the right place.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the thick band of tissue that runs from your heel to the base of your toes. This thick band of tissue is known as the plantar fascia.
Plantar fasciitis can develop following acute injury (e.g. soft sand running or stepping awkwardly off a curb) or can develop gradually with overuse.
Overuse plantar fasciitis can be caused by:
- poor footwear (summer sandals, flip flops, ballet shoes)
- poor foot biomechanics (weak intrinsic foot muscles)
- weight gain (pregnancy)
- sudden increase in exercise load (drastically increasing distance/intensity of running)
- most often a combination of the above
If you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis, then you’re not alone. Just about 1 in 10 people will suffer from plantar fasciitis at some point during their life. Now that’s a lot of people! Plantar fasciitis is not easy to deal with, however, it can be fixed. You can recover from it even though you may have been dealing with it for weeks, months, years or even decades.
Why Can’t I Shake It Off?
Below are 4 reasons why your plantar fasciitis is not getting better.
1. You’re treating the symptoms, not the cause
Taking pain killers and anti-inflammatories when needed to ease the pain is not doing you much good in the long run. A common mistake when people have plantar fasciitis is treating the symptoms and not the cause. Though this may provide some relief, it is only short-term and the pain will inevitably return. In some cases, pain killers are of great detriment as you may feel like you can walk further and faster. Simply masking the pain will lead to over doing it and further inflammation. Pain is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong and if we cover that pain we may be making things worse without realising it. If you really want that pain to go away for good, then treat the cause of the problem, not just the symptoms. This is how to get rid of the problem for good and prevent recurrence.
2. You’re doing the same things but expecting different outcomes
If you think that your pain will recede while continuing to walk 5km, run, undertake cross-fit and play sports as you did before, I’ve got some bad news for you. This will be why you’re not getting the results you’re after. Your plantar fascia is stretched and engaged with every step you take and as the intensity increases, so does the load on the plantar fascia. Modifying your activities to reduce the load on the plantar fascia is the first stage of treating plantar fasciitis and is essential throughout rehab. It is important to stick to activity modification and not fall back into old habits.
3. Your shoes are not right for you
Your shoes help to support, cushion, and give you stability when walking and running. However, they can also cause you to feel even more pain and undo all the good work of other treatments.
If your shoes are worn down, unsupportive or aren’t the right shoes for your foot type, then this may be slowing down your recovery or possibly making your plantar fasciitis worse. Wearing the right shoes is crucial for plantar fasciitis recovery.
4. You’re not sticking to your prescribed exercise program
Often, many people just don’t stick to their exercise program thinking the pain will just go away or the other treatment methods will be enough. This is simply NOT the case!
People with plantar fasciitis often have tight calf muscles and a stiff midfoot. There is also weakness of the plantar foot muscles as well as weakness of the muscles around the hip. These need to be gradually stretched and strengthened accordingly. The stretches and exercises prescribed by your health professional are THE MOST IMPORTANT part of your rehab. If anything is going to work on its own, it’s this.
- plantar fasciitis can be fixed but it requires a level of commitment from yourself
- if you’re going to prioritise any component of treatment make sure it is your exercise program
- to optimise the speed and effectiveness of your recovery, combining treatment options will always work best
- if you are struggling with plantar fasciitis, please reach out for help!
Written by Nicholas Dimos (Physiotherapist)