Foot pain is a common complaint because almost every physical activity relies on your feet to propel you. The human foot is complex, containing 26 bones, 33 joints and a network of more than 100 tendons, muscles and ligaments, and an intricate network of blood vessels and nerves. If any one of these structures is damaged, it can cause foot injury and pain.
What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is a pain on or around the heel. It is usually an overuse injury that causes an irritation or degeneration of the plantar fascia at its attachment on the site of the heel bone. It is the most common foot pain condition seen by physiotherapists.
What causes plantar faciitis?
Foot pain from Plantar Fasciitis occurs as a result of overload stretching or ‘pulling’ of the plantar fascia from its attachment at the heel bone. Activities such as running and dancing are commonly associated with the development of plantar fasciitis. The overload of tissue, whether too frequent or too great results in the tendon not adequately adapting and eventually failing. There is also a thought that overpronation or flat arches can contribute to plantar fasciitis.
How does plantar fasciitis feel?
Pain occurs when pressing on the inside of the heel and sometimes along the arch. It is usually worse first thing in the morning as the fascia tightens up overnight. After a few minutes it eases as the foot gets warmed up. As the condition becomes more severe the pain can get worse throughout the day if acitivity continues.
Stretching the plantar fascia may be painful. Sometimes there may also be pain along the outside border of the heel. This may occur due to the offloading the painful side of the heel by walking on the outside border of the foot. It may also be associated with the high impact of landing on the outside of the heel if you have high arched feet.
Management of plantar fasciitis and how to fix it
It can be very difficult to rest the foot as most people will be on their feet during the day for work. By walking on the painful foot you are continually aggravating the injury and increasing symptoms. Rest as much as possible and stop any unnecessary activities which place additional stress on the fascia. See your physiotherapist for the appropriate treatment. This can involve a number of different things, including taping techniques, stretches and progressive eccentric loading exercises.
Apply ice or cold therapy to help reduce pain and inflammation. A plantar fasciitis night splint is an excellent product which is worn overnight and gently stretches the calf muscles and plantar fascia preventing it from tightening up overnight. You can get further information about this from your therapist. Correct footwear is critical in the prevention and treatment of this condition as biomechanical weaknesses can increase loads through the plantar fascia.
Blistets are small skin irritations, caused by friction and aggravated by moisture. They can cause considerable footpain and prevent you from performing activities as simple as walking and running. Studies suggest that individuals who have foot blisters are at greater risk of injuries (overuse of the muscles and tendons – stress and fractures). Treatment is best by using blister kits purchased from a pharmacy, to keep the area dry and frictionless.
Socks are an often overlooked piece of equipment. They provide an athlete with function, comfort and the potential to prevent injury. Sock technology helps control moisture, dissipate heat, provide cushion, shock absorption and resists friction. Choose socks that combine all of these elements.
- Look for fabrics with properties that help to keep moisture away from feet.
- 100% cotton socks will not help moisture or heat (both may cause friction and blisters).
At rest, a typical foot can produce a quarter cup of sweat every 12 hours. With increased activity, sweat production can be multiplied by four times!