Plantar Fasciitis – Physical Therapy techniques to get relief – Part 1

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the strong tissue that runs along the bottom
of the foot and connects the heel to the base of the toes (see image). This common overuse injury is characterized by heel pain that is worse in the morning with the first few steps. Since it is difficult to rest the foot, this problem gradually worsens. With progression, pain may start interfering with activities of daily living.

Potential Causes Include:
•    Weak foot muscles
•    Tight Achilles tendon
•    Flat or high arches
•    Poor shoe support
•    Sudden increase in activity level
•    Sudden increase in weight

Effective Treatment Will Address:
•    Decreasing pain
•    Restoring flexibility to tight structures surrounding the arch and ankle
•    Strengthening the muscles in and around the foot
•    GRADUAL return to full activity
Your doctor and physical therapist can design a rehabilitation program that is the most appropriate, but there are some simple and effective things that you can do.

Treatment Process:
Use pain as your guide. Initially, avoid prolonged walking, running or jumping.

Cold Therapy:
Ice can help decrease pain. For best results ice should be applied three-four times daily to the injured area using ice massage for 5-7 minutes or an ice pack for 10-15 minutes each application.

Use of appropriate footwear for daily activities and sports is very important. Improperly fitting shoes can cause plantar fasciitis. A running shoe with good support through the middle of the arch would be optimal.

Plantar fascia taping can also provide some relief of your symptoms. The tape will decrease your pain by distributing force away from the stressed plantar fascia.

Your doctor, podiatrist or physical therapist may suggest using a shoe insert or orthotic device to decrease the forces at the site of the injury.

Stretching and Strengthening:
As soon as swelling and pain begin to subside it is important to start a proper stretching program. In my next posts I will describe some helpful stretching and strengthening  exercises.

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