Planta fasciitis

Planta fasciitis

What, Why & How to Fix

Planta fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis)

If you are experiencing pain at the bottom of your foot and near your heel, then you may be suffering with planta fascitis.

If so, this is a much watch video/article that will help you better understand the causes and exercises to help you relieve your symptoms.

What is Planta fasciitis?

Planta fasciitis is an irritation or inflammation to the strong band of tissue/ligament in the arch of your foot. In many cases, it can result suddenly after a particular activity such as running or walking or it can develop over a period of time.

Common symptoms include a stabbing pain usually occurring in the morning with your first steps. As you get up and move, the pain normally decreases, but it might return after long periods of standing or when you stand up after sitting.

Why do people get this?

The planta fascia ligament is an extremely strong tissue structure that attaches into the heel and spreads to the heads of the toes. It helps to support the arch of the foot when you weight bear.

When this tissue is abnormally loaded which can result from stiffness and joint changes to the foot/ankle or joints higher up, the tissue becomes irritated or overstretched. When it’s overly stretched, you can get tiny tears on its surface. This can bring on pain and inflammation.

Who gets it?

More women than men get this condition and can be linked to footwear. This condition is common in runners and walkers- based on the fact it requires the weight of the body to be spread normally through the foot and ligament. However, other people are shown to be commonly affected include:

  • Females - especially in pregnant women when hormones alter the ligament flexibility.
  • Are 40 to 60 years old
  • Have flat feet or high arches
  • Have tight Achilles tendons, or “heel cords”
  • Have an unusual walk or foot position
  • Often wear high-heeled shoes
  • Spend many hours standing each day
  • Wear worn-out shoes with thin soles

It was thought that bony spurs in the heel could have caused this condition but more recently it is considered that the abnormal pull of the pull of the plantar fascia results in bony spurs which can cause further pain and inflammation.

Early Advice

Here are three top tips if you develop symptoms:

  1. In the initial stages of the condition avoid flat shoes! Look at a shoe with a soft heel such as trainers.

  2. Reduce your activity levels in particular walking, running, etc. even if it does not cause any pain when doing the activity.

  3. Start pain-free exercises early and gauge how the symptoms feel early in the mornings to see if they are helping.

Calf Stretches

Technique: Arms against a wall, stretch the leg back, press the heel down into the floor.

Top tip: Many people tight in this area may have their heel turned out. Keep the foot facing forwards and focus on maintaining an even contract of the foot and heel on the ground.

Evidence: Here is a on general exercises and plantar fascitis

Soleus Stretches

Technique: Bring the leg closer, bend the knee towards the wall. You should feel the stretch lower down in the calf complex.

Top Tip: Effective targeting this muscle means you feel the stretch lower in the calf area.

Evidence Here is an article on stretching exercises

Strengthening the calf and foot

Technique: Using a step box (or anything solid) place the balls of your feet on a towel. The start position is with the heel lifted. Keep your leg straight. Gently lowering the heel down. Try to move through the balls of your foot. At the bottom, lift the heel up.

Top Tip Keep the leg straight to really emphasising strengthening the calf complex and small muscles in the foot.

Evidence: Here is an article on strengthening the foot

Foot Mobility

If symptoms at the base of the foot feel tight and are not acutely painful then try using a golf ball:

Golf Ball mobilizations - using either a soft or hard small ball- roll this in the arch of the foot. Gently applying pressure down and working into particular tight areas.

Foot mobility Using your hands, gently move the middle of the foot from side to side. Hold one side down and stretch and move the other side.

A copy of these exercises can be downloaded here

Plantar Fasciitis Exercise Sheet

In many situations, this condition is linked to how the foot and ankle move and therefore other types of techniques and treatments can be effective in helping to speed up the recovery period. These include:

  • Taping and support
  • Manual therapy
  • Soft tissue therapy
  • Temporary insoles

If you are unsure about your signs and symptoms then we advise you to speak to suitable healthcare professionals or a member of the Urban Physio and Therapy team.