PT Tip of the Month
The plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue located on the bottom of your foot that runs from your heel to the base of your toes. It provides support and protection, but most importantly it allows for a more rigid foot during walking and running.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition in which the plantar fascia is repetitively stretched, causing an inflammatory process that produces foot and heel pain. It is commonly seen in active individuals who increase their levels of activity too quickly, but can affect sedentary individuals as well. Occupations that involve prolonged standing or walking (especially with improper footwear) can increase the stress placed on the feet and lead to plantar fasciitis.
Despite your level of activity, there are many factors that can predispose you to developing plantar fasciitis. Being overweight is a significant risk factor as the excess weight places more stress on the plantar fascia. People with high or low arches, as well as tightness or weakness of the muscles in your feet and legs are common causes of plantar fasciitis too.
Common symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain in the middle of the heel when walking, especially first thing in the morning or with activities such as jogging, prolonged walking, or climbing stairs. It is best to avoid any painful activities and contact your physician or physical therapist if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Icing your foot is a simple and effective way to reduce your pain and swelling. Placing an ice pack in a towel or pillow case and wrapping it around your heel for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, 2 to 3 times a day is an excellent self-treatment method. If you experience your pain while running or walking long distances, placing an over-the-counter heel cushion or gel pad in your sneakers may help too. They are a relatively inexpensive way to help decrease your pain and are available at most retail pharmacies.
An evaluation by one of our licensed physical therapists can help determine the cause of your plantar fasciitis and the best course of treatment. Treatment interventions may include the use of modalities to help control the pain and inflammation, stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as a recommendation for orthotics/shoe modification if appropriate.
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