Plantar Fasciitis

(plant-R fa-she- I-tis)

Do you suffer from heel pain? Is it worse first thing in the morning or after you have been sitting for long periods and go to get up? Does the pain go away after you have taken a few steps or after getting warmed up during activity?

Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation and irritation of the plantar fascia (a thick, fibrous tissue that extends from the heel to the toes and supports the arch). Excessive pronation or supination can strain the plantar fascia resulting in micro tears and increased tension where the fascia attaches to the calcaneus (heel). Pain is often felt at the central/medial heel, through the medial longitudinal arch and/or near the ball of the foot on the medial side.

Common causes of plantar fasciitis include too much activity too soon, tight calf muscles, an imbalance of the lower limb muscles, poor gait biomechanics, and/or footwear that is worn out or inappropriate for your foot type or activity. Your family or sports medicine physician may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, activity modification, physiotherapy, chiropractic treatments, massage, and/or custom foot orthotics.

An icing and stretching regime will also help reduce your symptoms. Rolling a golf or tennis ball under the foot can offer some pain relief.

Listed below are a couple of stretches that I recommend in order to get you started.

STANDING PHONE BOOK STRETCH

This stretch should be performed with shoes on.

Stand with your back straight and place the ball of the foot on top of a book with the heel on the ground. Take a step forward with the opposite foot, keeping both legs straight and hold for 1-2 minutes. Keeping this position, bend the knee slightly and hold for another 1-2 minutes. Switch sides to stretch the other calf.

SITTING PLANTAR FASCIA STRETCH

This stretch should be performed with shoes on.

Sit with the back straight and right leg outstretched. Place the left heel on the toes of the right foot and pull the toes towards you while keeping the right knee straight. Hold the stretch for 1-2 minutes. Switch sides to stretch the opposite foot.

STEPPING STONE TIP

Avoid walking in barefoot at home and choose supportive footwear for indoor use. A good type of shoe to wear in the house is a supportive slipper like a Haflinger, or a sandal like Birkenstock or Mephisto.

Images of Haflinger, Birkenstock, and Mephisto footwear provided by Canadian Footwear.