What is plantar fasciitis and how do I prevent it?

Dr Amanda Pike
Podiatry
Are your feet summer ready?

With the weather warming up, we want to get out more and wear less on our feet. Sandals, thongs, barefoot along the beach. Unfortunately, having worn those winter boots and runners all winter, our feet are not prepared for this kind of stress.

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia.

At the base of your foot, there is a band of tissue called the Plantar Fascia. The plantar fascia connects your heel to your toes and creates the arch of the foot. This band of tissue can get really sore and tight and start to pull on its attachment site near the heel, thus causing heel pain.

Things that can cause or contribute to it:

  • Playing sports that put repetitive stress on your heel bones such as running and aerobics
  • Being overweight
  • Not wearing supportive footwear
  • Pregnancy
  • Being on your feet too much

What are the symptoms?

  • Sharp pain in the heel
  • Dull ache through the base of your foot or the heel
  • Swelling around the heel
  • Pain is worse in the morning when you take your first steps of the day
  • Pain after intense activity

How do I avoid getting it?

  • Keep your feet strong all year round
  • Balancing on one foot
  • Golf ball underneath the foot - roll back and forth over the ball
  • Stretch out your achilles and calf
  • Keep active through every season, not just the warmer ones
  • Standing on 1 leg on the ball of your foot and holding up on your toes for 30 seconds on each side

How do I treat it?

If you are one of the unlucky ones to get plantar fasciitis, then get onto it ASAP. Early intervention is key.

Consult your favourite Osteo, Physio or health care professional.

  • Ice the area regularly - freeze water in a drink bottle and then rest on that, or freeze a lemon/lime and use it like a golf ball under your foot.  Aim fo 10 minutes, 3 or 4 times per day
  • Roll the base of your foot on a golf ball to release the tightness
  • Dry needling can help, although it is a little bit uncomfortable
  • Massage to release the tightness in your lower leg
  • Try strengthening exercises such as calf raises (rising up onto the balls of your feet and down), 30 second holds up on your toes to strengthen your achilles tendon and balancing on one leg
  • Foam roll your calves
  • Some might prescribe orthotics to offload the tension. You can buy some great insoles from Athletes Foot -  https://www.theathletesfoot.com.au/sof-sole-plantar-fasciitis-3-4-womens.html
  • If you need to get supportive shoes, check out Bared Footwear at https://bared.com.au/

Plantar fasciitis can be a really annoying injury and can unfortunately take a long time to heal. Be patient and consistent with your exercises. Make sure you get on to it quickly.

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