What is Plantar Fasciitis?
by Blake McDonald, DPT
AZOPT Buckeye Physical Therapist
Plantar fasciitis is a dysfunction of the support structure along the bottom of your foot, resulting in abnormal thickening and thinning of various parts of the tissue. This is often due to overuse of the plantar fascia stemming from poor foot mechanics and/or poor footwear coupled with spending too much time on your feet.
Cardinal signs of plantar fasciitis are pain with touch or pressure to the instep closest to the heel, pain with first steps in the morning, and limited ability to flex the foot up towards the shin.
Plantar fasciitis often occurs gradually with no known cause, but several risk factors include flat feet, feet with high arches, hamstring tightness, a high body mass index (BMI), or participating in running or other prolonged standing activities.
Some of these risk factors can be addressed independently by following some helpful tips:
Give yourself a warm-up before going to work or participating in exercise. Ideas may include heel and toe raises, air squats, or marching in place. Click here for a great warm up plan called the “100Up” exercise on YouTube.
Light stretches before and after activity can also warm up the tissue. Downward dog is your plantar fascia and calf muscle’s best friend! Change up the downward dog with alternating leg pumps to provide more movement to the tissues of your feet. If yoga is too strenuous for you, performing a self-stretch to your plantar fascia while sitting can be the TLC your feet need.
Wear supportive shoes that are comfortable, fit your foot width, and aren’t too squishy or hard. Price is not always an indicator of how good a shoe will be to you. Depending on your symptoms, footwear may be required at home, especially if you have hard floors that increase your pain.
Losing weight will reduce the amount of strain on your feet and supportive tissues.
Riding a bike can allow aerobic exercise while reducing strain on your feet.
On days when your pain level is high, applying heat to your foot can loosen up the tissues and reduce pain levels.
My job as a physical therapist is to be a movement specialist, analyzing what other factors may be contributing to pain and dysfunction. Visit me, or any one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy, to take advantage of our training. See what may be affecting how you run or walk and more importantly, how to eliminate your pain.