How to Identify Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciits is typically an overuse injury, an inflammation (-itis) of the connective tissue (fascia) on the bottom (plantar) surface of the foot.

This connective tissue spans from your heel bone (calcaneus) to the metatarsals of the mid-foot, contributing to the arch of the foot.

It plays an important role during activities like walking, squatting, and jumping with its supportive properties to the arch. It is virtually a continuation of your calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) thereby shortening when your foot is pointed away from you (plantarflexion) and lengthening when your foot is pulled up toward you (dorsiflexion). This is important to understand because it is the basic premise of how to treat your inflamed plantar fascia.

A common component of this injury is diminished flexibility of the calf, which thereby increases stress and strain on plantar fascia with every step you take. While you are sleeping at night, the fascia will begin its healing process and the swelling may settle in the area of the heel bone. And since your feet are usually at rest in a pointed position (plantarflexed) when sleeping, you typically wake up with further tightness in your calf. Then, every morning when you go to get out of bed your first steps in bare feet re-injures the fascia and a cycle of healing and re-injury begins to occur.

Unless you address this right away, this condition can become sub acute and then chronic, leading to a tougher road to recovery in the future.

Have a towel or yoga strap at your bedside and each morning before you go to get out of bed for the first time, sit up and stretch your calf by pulling your foot toward you with a straight knee. Once you have completed this a few times, try getting out of bed. Then throughout the day, while wearing your shoes, perform a calf stretch in standing at the wall. With your hands on the wall and your injured foot in back pointed straight ahead, heel on ground at all times, and your knee straight, lean forward until a stretch is felt in your calf. Continue to work on calf stretching 3-4 times per day without aggravating your symptoms until you feel relief.

If you continue to suffer from pain in the heel and arch of your foot, consider physical therapy where functional mobilizations are used to improve the soft tissue mobility that is not improving with stretching and the joint mobility that has been lost either from a previous injury to the foot or ankle, limping, or some other type of compensation that you may not be aware of.

A Manual Physical Therapist can provide you with advice on the health of your foot’s arch and whether that is contributing to your plantar fasciitis. In addition, your therapist will discuss with you other causes that may be contributing to your condition and provide recommendations such as custom or semi-custom orthotics, to help you overcome this injury as efficiently as possible.

Elite Health Services, located in Old Greenwich, CT is a world-class provider of certified functional manual based physical therapy, personal fitness, golf & triathlon performance training, massage therapy and wellness related services.  Our team of highly skilled and dedicated professionals take a no-excuses approach to providing exceptional care, and delivering exceptional results.  To receive updates on upcoming events and to receive F.R.E.E health and wellness articles enter your email address here today! 

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