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You may have heard the term Plantar Fasciitis. Stubborn pain that you can’t seem to get rid of!

The plantar fascia is that thick band of tissue on the bottom of your foot, and the term ‘fasciitis’ is simply the inflammation of this tissue, which then leads to your heel or foot pain.

This band of tissue is important for arch stability and plays a big role in actually propelling you forward, so it is key in every step you take. Hence why this condition can be prevalent in walkers to long distance runners and even desk workers.

Why do I have it?

It all comes down to load.

A change in load can be caused by something as simple as a change in footwear, walking on different surfaces, or it may be from an actual increase in distance or intensity of walking or running, or even an exhausting day spent working in the garden.

When the load changes quickly, the plantar fascia has to overwork to take up the slack, which it may not be strong enough to overcome, therefore the tissue becomes stressed.

How long will I have it for?

Plantar Fasciitis can be kind to some, however if can also be a real bugger for others.

Pain can resolve within 3-12wks, but it can also hang around for 6-12 months 

– why this long?? 

> Well if you think about it, its really difficult to properly de-load your feet while still getting on with life!

How do I get it better now?

De-loading by decreasing the time spent on your feet is the best way to combat this condition. If we can cut down your load significantly in the first few weeks pain and inflammation will diminish. Ice and release work for your feet are also great ways to help kick the pain in the initial stages.

A change in footwear, along with taping techniques and possibly orthotics can also help in the short-term – however these things will of course not give you long-term relief and prevention of plantar fasciitis.

What about Cortisone? 

> cortisone as a short-term relief of pain can be effective, however it doesn’t give any benefit in the long-term prevention.

We don’t advise cortisone as we believe there are easier more non-invasive ways to help with pain, however it may be indicated if the client is having a really difficult time decreasing pain within the first 2-3 weeks.

In the Long-term?

To prevent any flare ups in the future we need to address strength.

The best evidence suggests that we need an 8-12 week progressive strength program to make plantar fasciitis better. Targeting areas such act the calf; both superficial gastrocs and deeper soleus, as well as muscles of the foot. Late stage rehab would also include glute work and single leg control of the entire lower limb.

We would progressively load exercises surrounding these muscles. For example calf raise we can do with different variations to make it more challenging (bent or straight leg, or even, off a step etc.) but we would also want to add weight to these movements. This is important because not only will it get us stronger that pre-injury but it will help prevent a reoccurrence of plantar fasciitis in the long run. 

What should I do now?

Getting assessed by a Physio should be your first step!

Someone who understands the condition and wants to help you get stronger and prevent this injury in the future. 

Building strength can take time and progress can be slow, but try to stay motivated, keep the long-term picture in mind, and your hard work will help with injury prevention in the future.

Nick Hunter


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