Let’s be honest: the feet are easy to forget about.
We have “arm day” and “leg day” at the gym, but what about “foot day?”
We might shop for the most fashionable footwear, but is it supportive?
Many of us don’t pay much attention to our feet until we notice that they are achy or bothersome.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot injuries that results from “neglecting” the feet. If you have heel pain, you may have plantar fasciitis.
Treating plantar fasciitis quickly and correctly is crucial to preventing debilitating injuries that result from untreated plantar fasciitis.
Our experts in plantar fasciitis treatment Fort Myers answer commonly asked questions about plantar fasciitis so that you can prevent this common injury, or get rid of it for good if you have it:
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Unlike occasional soreness you may feel in your feet after a long day in less-than-ideal footwear, plantar fasciitis is felt in the heel and typically worsens overtime if not treated properly.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition in which your plantar fascia (a band of tissue that connects your heel to your toes) is inflamed. The inflammation leads to symptoms such as heel pain and stiffness.
Usually, the inflammation is caused by overuse (performing on-foot activities for long periods of time). However, the underlying causes of plantar fasciitis vary from person to person.
What are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
The most dominant symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain. The heel pain typically starts off mild and gradually worsens overtime if left untreated.
The pain is most noticeable after long periods of inactivity (such as when you take your first steps after sleeping) and just after finishing on-foot exercise.
Other common symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Heel stiffness (which gets worse with long periods of inactivity)
- Pain that worsens when you extend your toes
- Visible swelling
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Knowing what caused your plantar fasciitis is critical to your recovery. In order to treat plantar fasciitis correctly, you need to pinpoint and fix the underlying cause of your plantar fasciitis.
Only treating the symptoms with medications and rest will not effectively heal your plantar fascia.
In fact, symptom-based treatment approaches can cause more harm than good by masking the pain and further damaging the fascia.
Knowing the most common causes of plantar fasciitis is also a great way to prevent getting plantar fasciitis (or getting it again).
Here are a few of the most common causes of plantar fasciitis:
- High-impact on-foot activities (such as long-distance running or walking, dancing, skiing, jumping, or dancing)
- Occupations requiring long periods of standing/walking (such as teaching, cleaning, food service, etc.)
- Poor footwear (such as heels, worn sneakers, and flip flops)
You are at increased risk of developing plantar fasciitis if you are between the ages of 40-60, overweight, and/or have either flat or high arches.
What are the Best Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis?
You may have heard to rest and ice the plantar fascia in order to treat plantar fasciitis.
While resting and icing can decrease inflammation, they are not enough to permanently get rid of plantar fasciitis.
1) First, Check Your Footwear
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash
One of the first things you should do is look at your footwear. Is it old? Does it provide enough support?
A general rule of thumb for sneakers is to replace them every 300-500 miles of use.
Avoid wearing unsupportive footwear such as flats, high-heels, or flip flops/sandals to work.
You can find stylish alternatives to unsupportive work shoes by searching for shoe shops in your area (or online) that focus on healthy footwear.
2) Next, Pinpoint & Fix the Underlying Cause
It’s not always easy to pinpoint the underlying cause of plantar fasciitis on your own, which is why we recommend seeing a Doctor of Physical Therapy for specific testing.
A Doctor of Physical Therapy can guide you through specialized tests to determine what caused your plantar fasciitis.
Many times, our physical therapy practice in Fort Myers finds that patients have issues with their posture, exercise techniques, or muscular imbalances – things that are nearly impossible to identify without expert help.
Because most people don’t add foot strengthening and stretching to their exercise program, we recommend specific strengthening, stretching, and massage techniques to speed up recovery and avoid reinjury.
Good exercises to start with include:
- Plantar Fascia Stretch Using a Step: Stand on a step/stair with the heel of your affected foot resting off the edge. Gently press the heel downward until you feel a stretch. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat it five times daily.
- Towel Scrunches: Sit in a chair with your affected foot resting atop a flat towel. Use your toes to scrunch up the towel while keeping the rest of the foot flat against the towel. Do three sets of 10 reps five times daily.
- Tennis Ball Massage: Sit in a chair with your affected foot resting atop a small ball such as a tennis ball. Gently move the foot atop the ball back and forth in the area between your toes and your heel. Repeat 10 times, three times daily.
It is always best to perform exercises under the supervision of a physical therapist, especially when you first start to learn them.
Your physical therapist will make sure you are doing the exercises correctly so that you do not cause any more harm to the plantar fascia.