Updated: Aug 25, 2021
You never fully appreciate the importance of your body until something goes wrong. This is most certainly true with your feet. It is one of the most used and needed parts of your skeleton but also one of the most neglected.
Each foot consists of 26 bones and 29 muscles (10 starting outside the foot). It is the furthest body part from your heart – a fact that can cause many problems as you age or if you develop heart or circulatory problems. Injuries or problems can affect the skin on the outside and the bones and tissues on the inside ranging from athlete’s foot, bunions (misshapen joints), neuromas (painful but benign growths on the nerves), plantar fasciitis (pain, inflammation and/or thickening of the band of tissue under your foot from the heel to the toes) to name a few.
In this blog I am going to focus on plantar fasciitis. It is as result of changes in the structure of the fascia and surrounding tissue/degeneration. Its function is to support the arch of the foot and shock absorption.
There are many sources of pain in this area of the foot and often it is better to describe it as plantar heel pain. Sometimes there are not even inflammatory cells which is contrary to the meaning of the suffix “itis” in the word “plantar fasciitis”. It is often an overuse injury primarily due to repetitive strain causing micro tears of the fascia but can also be caused by other injury or trauma. Pain usually starts in the heel or mid foot, usually occurs in the first few steps of the morning or after exercise and when barefoot or on hard surfaces.
Risk factors to Plantar fasciitis are:
Loss of ankle dorsiflexion
Deformities or altered anatomy
Excessive foot pronation
Impact/weight-bearing activities such as prolonged standing, running, etc
Improper shoe fit
Elevated BMI > kg/m2
Leg length discrepancy
Tightness and/or weakness of the calf muscles
Some current statistics on Plantar fasciitis include:
Approximately 10-22% of running related injuries
Thought to occur in about 10% of the general population
Usually occurs between 25 and 65 years old
The average plantar heel pain episode lasts longer than 6 months
Approximately 90% of cases are treated successfully with conservative care
Females present with the plantar heel slightly more commonly than males
Conservative management is very successful and includes:
Relative rest from offending activity as guided by the level of pain- should be prescribed.
Ice/heat as well as oral or topical anti-inflammatory can be used to help alleviate pain.
Rolling your foot on a bottle of frozen water/rolling pin after exercise
Soaking in hot water
Soft tissue manual therapy of the arch and insertion (Rolling your foot on a bottle or ball and stretching out your calves).
Shoe inserts or orthotics are sometimes needed
Education on proper stretching and rehab of the: plantar fascia; Achilles' tendon; gastrocnemius; and soleus muscles.
Taking good care of your feet can make the world of difference in the long run. From choosing the best foot ware, regular stretching and massage, hygiene and even just taking a walk along the shoreline in the soft sand and sea water from time to time 😊
“Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground”