The Plantar Fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue that starts at the heel of your foot and extends along the sole to the region of the toes. It helps to maintain the arch within your foot and so helps act as a shock absorber every time your heel or foot strikes the ground.
Unfortunately, your Plantar Fascia can develop micro tears or become inflamed. This is known as Plantar Fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis is most often associated with impact and running sports, especially those that involve toe running rather than heel running styles.
It is also commonly diagnosed in individuals with poor foot biomechanics that stress the Plantar Fascia. Flat feet or weak foot arch control muscles are two common causes of Plantar Fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis normally first presents as a pain under your heel that is evident first thing in the morning or after a prolonged period of rest. While this pain is evident with the first 10 to 12 steps it generally eases as the Fascia warms up and becomes more flexible. If this condition remains untreated the Fascia becomes painful not only after but also during exercise. Eventually pain is present even at rest.
If Plantar Fasciitis remains untreated for long enough then a bone may develop at the insertion of the Fascia at the heel, known as a heel spur.
Risk factors for Plantar Fasciitis include sports with excessive impact such as running, tight calf muscles, being overweight, inappropriate foot wear, flat feet or pronation, certain forms of arthritis and spending prolonged time on your feet.
Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis is multi-faceted in its approach. This will include assessment of the foot to ensure that a patient does not have any faulty foot biomechanics such as pronation or pes planus. Such changes may require orthotics. Various physical therapy may also be administered including soft tissue therapy to the sole of the foot and the affected calf, ultrasound and laser to the Plantar Fascia, application of ice, a course of anti-inflammatories, taping of the Fascia as well as a prescription of targeted stretches. Advice may be given regarding the level and type of activities the patient can engage in as well as appropriate foot wear.