Summer is fast approaching and that means more running, more walking, and a lot of time spent in poorly supported footwear. These activities, especially when introduced suddenly, can stress our feet and may lead to a painful condition known as plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis can be an acute (sudden) or chronic (longstanding) condition in which the fascia on the sole of the foot becomes inflamed. This fascia is a connective tissue that runs from the heel to the toes and it serves to support the muscles and nerves in the foot as well as maintains the integrity of the arch. Placing continual stress on this structure (in activities such as running, walking, prolonged standing and weight gain) can lead to micro tears, inflammation and eventual pain.
Symptoms often begin as a sharp pain at the heel of the foot that gradually migrates along the arch to the base of the toes. Pain is worse with walking, standing and dorsi flexion (bringing the toes up toward the shin) and those first steps in the morning are often the most agonizing. In advanced stages pain persists even at rest.
Some home treatments for plantar fasciitis include icing, taping, calf stretches, and deep tissue massage along the fascia. When performed properly, these treatments are often effective at reducing and even resolving symptoms. While initial treatment for plantar fasciitis can be helpful, reoccurrence is high if the cause is not determined and quickly resolved. For this reason it is important to have symptoms assessed and treated early by a health care professional. Your friendly physiotherapist will perform a detailed assessment to diagnose both the injury and the cause.
Treatment following assessment may include acupuncture, ultrasound, gait training and strengthening designed around your specific needs and goals. Individualized treatment in this manner is necessary to reduce the chances of symptoms returning and the injury becoming chronic.
So next time you are outside enjoying that beautiful Okanagan sunshine whether it be on the golf course, at a running race or out for an afternoon stroll, make sure to listen to those feet and give them the attention they deserve.