Have you got intense pain in your heel making you hobble first thing in the morning?
Do you sit in a car for 2 hours and you can’t put your foot down and end up looking a lot like John Cleese’s ministry of silly walks?
Can only be the dreaded plantar fasciitis. Maybe you’ve been to see the GP and they’ve suggested it will probably get better by itself in 12-24 months. This doesn’t sound overly encouraging – it sounds like you’re looking forward to another 2 years of limping around like a needle is stuck in your foot!
So What is it?
Plantar Fasciitis is an ‘overstress’ problem. It’s similar to a tendinopathy in that it’s a result of overloading the soft-tissue at the bottom of the foot. The PF is a shock absorber so if the biomechanics of your leg are not ideal you can stress out this soft tissue and voila – pain.
Mostly biomechanics: If your leg ‘rolls’ in when you walk or run, your foot tries to help out by flattening more and this stresses the soft tissue. Flattening or pronation is a normal thing for bodies to do but its really the lack of control in this pronation which is the issue.
Possibly footwear: If you have a habit of wearing shoes with dodgy support that allows your foot to slop around you might be contributing to the problem. Some decent orthotics or even some proper shoes might just help your PF settle down.
Other factors that might contribute: putting on weight, tight hamstrings, tight calves, weak buttock muscles, lower back pain, being middle aged, training for a walking holiday or maybe just a change of shoes.
EXTRA INTERESTING POINT: occasionally a nerve called the medial plantar nerve can get a bit grumpy and masquerade as PF. It can either get squashed because your Plantar Fascia is irritated or it can come via your sciatic nerve. If you’ve got more general pain around your heel and maybe a sore lower back and some tightness at the back of your leg – this might just be you!
How can Physio help?
Well for a start, the ‘wait for 2 years for it to go away’ approach is probably not too helpful. At the McConnell Physio Group we would try and figure out Why your PF is so stressed and then try and help from there. Calf releases help, stretching your hami if it’s a bit short, making sure your back is moving well, strengthening the muscles around your hips and core to help stabilise your leg, possibly some orthotics that are tailored for your foot – all of this can help and we would be very pleased to start getting you out of pain!