Ahhhh, after a good night’s rest, we all stretch a little, and take a moment to work the kinks out from the day before… But then as you stand up to get started with your day…. Ouch! My heel hurts! What is that sharp stabbing pain in my foot? Is that the arch or my heel that hurts? A few more steps and I will walk it out… Nope! Still there! Feels like the bottom of my foot is ripping! I can’t remember doing anything specific yesterday, what caused this and how can I make this heel pain go away?
If this sounds familiar, you may have the beginnings of plantar fasciitis. While causes of heel pain can vary from repetitive stresses, stretching, tension on the foot; they typically are in combination with poor footwear, age, occupations that require prolonged standing, and even obesity. While keeping all these things in mind, it is important to know what structure is being irritated, so you can make proper adjustments to your daily lifestyle in addition to consider possible treatment options.
Your plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue running from your heel bone to your toes. The plantar fascia creates an arch and acts as a shock absorbing bow-like structure designed to elongate and flatten out as stresses are placed upon it. This fascia is analogous to the leaf spring in a car. Poor support, flexibility, are key factors in the “ripping” or “tearing” sensation you feel as you go to stand up on it after a long rest period.
The initial phase of treatment is usually physical therapy. Your physical therapist may instruct you on stretches for flexibility. In addition, exercises focused on strengthening your leg muscles will help attain proper foot alignment and body mechanics. Using various modalities such as heat, ice, ultrasound and massage have proven to help symptoms, as well as anti-inflammatory medication, orthotics, and even night splints are typically next level interventions you can speak with your physician or PT about. At Aquacare we may recommend dynamic orthotic call ALINE, that allows your foot to move in a natural flexion/extension pattern that does more than just a gel cushion, or rigid orthotic. We offer free consultations, fitting and alignments using laser technology to align the lower leg and improve body mechanics.
Plantar Fasciitis does not have to be a life sentence… with early intervention, a few self-care techniques, and awareness of aggravating factors, you can be back up on those feet in no time. If you have heel pain, consider a consultation with a physical therapist. (Remember a physician referral is not typically required)
Written by Mark Repos, PTA – part of our Salisbury team