Those of us that have suffered from the pain caused by Plantar Fasciitis know how much it can limit normal daily functions (to say nothing of any athletic activity). I first suffered from the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis in my early thirties. I worked out regularly and played basketball and tennis several times a week. I was mortified when the symptoms were so bad I could hardly walk when I got out of bed in the morning. I have since learned that people from all walks of life (and ages) share my experience, from non-athletes to elite professional athletes like Eli Manning.
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?Pain under the heel and usually on the inside, at the origin of the attachment of the fascia. Pain along the outside border of the heel may also be a sign, this can be caused by the offloading of the painful side of the heel by walking on the outside of the foot and by the high impact of landing on the outside caused by high arched feet. Pain is usually worse first thing in the morning. After a few minutes it eases as the foot gets warmed up, but can get worse again during the day especially if walking a lot. Heel spur and Plantar fasciitis are common in sports which involve running, dancing or jumping. Runners whose feet excessively pronate (feet rolling in or flattening) are particularly at risk as the biomechanics of the foot pronating causes additional stretching of the plantar fascia.
What causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Very tight calf muscles are the predominant cause of plantar fasciitis. The repetitive over stretching of the plantar fascia caused by tight calf muscles leads to inflammation and thickening of the tendon. As the fascia thickens it loses flexibility and strength.Other causes include high arch or low arch feet (pes cavus / planus) and other biomechanical abnormalities which should be assessed by a podiatrist / physiotherapist / biomechanist.
What treatments can relieve the pain and prevent recurrence?
Cold therapy wraps are great for reducing the pain and inflamation. An example of wrap used for treatment is the ColdOne Plantar Fasciitis Cold Therapy Wrap . The whole wrap is places in the freezer until required. To use wrap around the foot where is will stay in place for the required amount of time.It works great as quick, clean and easy cold therapy.
As I mentioned, the pain is worst first thing in the morning because the plantar fascia tighten up during your sleep. An effective product to apply stretching therapy while you sleep is a night splint, which prevents the fascia from tightening up. The splint allows you to gradually increase the stretch at the ankle as your flexibility improves. An example of an adjustible night splint is the Bird & Cronin Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint.
Abnormal foot biomechanics are often a contributory factor in the development of plantar fasciitis. If you have a flat foot or your foot rolls inward when walking additional stress is put on the fascia.Likewise if you have a high rigid arch or your foot rolls outward when walking, then your foot lacks proper shock absorption. Once I got a good pair of custom insoles my Plantar Fasciitis pain went away in a few weeks. The best low cost custom insole I’ve seen is the Sole Ultra Softex Heat Moldable Insoles that mold to the unique requirements of your feet.
If you have normal foot mechanics, professional quality heel pads may be the way to go. The Bauerfeind ViscoSpot Bilateral Heel Cushions are a top of the line product that have a proven track record. They provide extra cushioning underneath the heel and have a soft spot which reduces the pressure on the most painful area.
About the Author:
Bruce is the president of Return2Fitness.net, an online sports medical resource and product center. His “entrepeneurial spirit” has resulted in the founding or acquisition of 20 companies during his 39 year career. Bruce is not a medical professional so please consult your local specialist before making any changes in the treatment of any injury or condition.