Lifestyle

Physio: Plantar fasciitis can emerge from wearing summer footwear

After an entire summer of wearing flip flops and sandals, you might be experiencing some foot pain.

But not all foot pain is footwear-related.

The plantar fascia is a soft tissue that attaches from the heel bone and fans out to the five toes.

It is responsible for supporting the arches in the feet, helping to hold the bones of the foot together, protecting the bottom of the foot from injury and assisting with push off during running, jumping and sprinting.

Plantar fasciitis is a common injury that is caused by repeated excessive force over a period of time leading to micro tears and inflammation in the plantar fascia.

It is one of the most common causes of heel pain and usually presents with sharp heel pain especially on the first few steps in the morning or after rest.

This is a common injury in many athletes including runners.

There are many reasons why people develop plantar fasciitis.

These can include errors in training, muscle imbalances, age changes in the fascia, alignment problems and poor fitting or worn out footwear.

Over training or compressing your training schedule is a common cause of this condition.

Runners who are starting to train for longer races, including 10 kilometre marathons, full marathons or longer, should progress their training over time to reduce the chances of developing this condition.

As a physiotherapist, when I assess this condition, I will look at several factors.

Some of these include your gait pattern, muscle and joint imbalances and the wear patterns on your footwear.

I will also palpate to locate the main areas of pain and come up with a custom treatment based on your specific assessment.

In cases where your arch is not being supported sufficiently, a tape job called the low dye can be helpful.

In other cases, a referral for orthotics may be needed.

Some other treatment options include education on the condition, training strategies, activity modification, ice, stretching, ultrasound and rest.

Your treatment will vary depending on your individual condition and needs.

You may also be shown some home exercises which may include: stretching of the plantar fascia and calf muscles, picking up marbles with your toes and scrunching up a towel to improve strength and flexibility in your foot.

There is no better sense of accomplishment than running in a great race, but remember to start your training early because it may just save you from a painful visit to your primary health care professional.

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