Plantar Fasciitis is a painful condition affecting the sole of the foot and commonly starting from the heel area. In the past it used to be called also “policeman’s heel” as the heel itself bears the majority of the weight while standing in heavy boots, hence becoming inflamed.
Symptoms that you might notice if you suffer from plantar fasciitis are:
- Heel pain
- Calf muscle tightness
- Calf cramps (mainly at night)
- Achilles Tendon pain
Symptoms usually worsen during weight-bearing activities such as walking and running and relieve during off weight-bearing activities such as cycling and swimming as well as rest.
The origin of the symptoms is usually non-traumatic so you don’t have to have necessarily injured your foot to develop plantar fasciitis. In fact, the most common causes for it are found in the way you walk or run (heavy heel strikers being mostly affected) or in wearing the wrong shoes during such activities. Very flat shoes or flip-flops don’t support the sole of your foot well enough, therefore can predispose to plantar fasciitis if worn for long periods of time.
How can osteopathy and physiotherapy help Plantar Fasciitis?
First of all by diagnosing your condition correctly and help you plan your way to recovery accordingly.
Things that your physiotherapist or osteopath can do to treat plantar fasciitis are:
- Provide you with an appropriate manual treatment to address the tightness of your calf as well as using dry needling acupuncture to target more directly the area of pain on your heel and/or sole of the foot.
- Teach you how to improve your running/walking technique so that your learn how to spring through your front foot instead of heel striking.
- Prescribe an appropriate exercise plan to address the calf muscle and the Achilles tendon.
- Suggest self-management tips such as rolling a small frozen bottle of water under the sole of your foot for about 10 minutes a day while sitting on a chair.
- Advice on the suitability of a heel support or heel pad to fit in your shoe to prevent further pressure from aggravating the pain.
Plantar fasciitis usually starts as a very low-grade ache in the heel area but it can extend to the whole of the foot sole if ignored.
The prognosis for recovery varies depending on the time of intervention, hence why it is highly recommendable that you seek treatment from a physiotherapist or an osteopath as soon as the initial symptoms appear.