By Dr. Sandeep Kalirah, BSc, DC
Plantar Fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain or pain at the bottom of the foot. It is estimated that 11-15% of foot complaints seen by a medical professional, may be attributed to plantar fasciitis.
Characterized by tight, aching or burning pain at the arch and/or heel of the foot, Plantar Fasciitis is a debilitating condition that alters the way people walk. This is due to inflammation and tightening of the tissue at the bottom of the foot, known as the Plantar Fascia. Sufferers usually report that the first few steps in the morning are often the most painful, whereas moderate activity helps to alleviate pain. However, if a patient goes for a long walk or is constantly standing, pain is aggravated and/or unrelenting.
Plantar Fascitis often contributes to other conditions such as knee pain, hip pain and low back pain. It is considered a self-limiting condition, meaning that in 80-90% of cases, it resolves on its own within 10 to 12 months. In the meantime, treatments such as custom insoles, physical therapies and self-management exercises, may help to alleviate the pain and suffering that goes along with this condition.
How To Manage Plantar Fasciitis
I often recommend 8 strategies for the treatment of Plantar Fasciitis.
Ice Bottle Technique
Take a plastic bottle and fill it up half way. Freeze it. With a thin towel or sheet placed on top, roll the bottle of ice back and forth with the foot, reaching all the way from the heel of the foot, to the toes. Keep rolling the bottle for approximately 10-15 minutes. Repeat this activity as often as possible, or at least, three (3) times per day.
Tennis Ball Technique
Similar to the ice-bottle, use a tennis ball to roll under the foot. Roll the ball from the heel, all the way to the toes. Perform this exercise for 10 minutes, three (3) times daily.
Have a seat on a chair and scatter napkins across the floor, all within foots reach. While seated, attempt to pick-up and pass-aside, each napkin, using the toes.
A-B-C’s and 1-2-3’s
Similar to the napkin technique, this exercise is performed seated. Attempt to draw out the alphabet with your foot. Draw letters A-B-C, all the way to Z. When done, attempt to draw numbers 1 through 10.
Resistance Band Stretch
With a resistance band (or towel if you do not have access), hold both ends as you wrap around the ball of the foot, with the knee straight. Pull on the band to bring the foot upwards and towards your body. You should feel a stretch at the bottom of the foot. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, repeat 5 times.
If you are experiencing Plantar Fascitis, it is always a good idea to talk to a licensed health professional, such as a Chiropodist, Chiropractor or Physiotherapist. These licensed professionals will assess the curves of your foot and footwear and make appropriate recommendations. These professionals may also fit you for orthotics, which may help cushion, and subsequently eliminate painful areas of the foot.
Due to the forces of gravity, when we lie on our backs or stomachs, our feet naturally point downwards. Wearing a device that keeps the ankle neutral during sleep, may help prevent contractures (tightening) of the plantar fascia and the surrounding calf muscles.
Chiropodists, Chiropractors, and/or Physiotherapists utilize various techniques and instruments that help loosen up and heal the plantar fascia. They may apply pressures and stretches to these areas or use tools to loosen them up. Electro-modalities such as Laser or Shockwave Therapy also have promising research evidence as treatment approaches. To help manage your pain, consultation a licensed health care professional to see what is right for you.