What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis a Latin word which means "inflammation of the plantar Fascia". This common foot complaint causes pain in the heel and often associated with heel spurs.
Pain is usually felt on the underside of the heel and is often most intense with the first steps out of bed in the morning or after rest. In some cases mild swelling In the heel is present. Usually the pain will subside after walking around for some time. Heel pain often worsens after long lasting activities like going for long walks, playing tennis or golf, as well as walking and standing on concrete floors for long periods of time.
What causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is mainly caused by incorrect foot function, in particular over-pronation (rolling in of the ankle and flattening of the arch). Contributing factors are age, weight gain, jobs that require a lot of walking or standing on hard surfaces, badly worn shoes with little support, and also inactivity.
The plantar fascia is the band of tissue that runs under the foot from the toes to the heel. When the foot pronates the plantar fascia is being over-stretched resulting in inflammation and pain at the point where the plantar fascia is attached to the heel bone.
What is a heel spur?
Because of the continuous pulling of the plantar fascia at the heel bone, the body eventually 'responds' by developing a bony growth on the heel bone. This is called a heel spur or calcaneal spur. The spur itself doesn't cause any pain; it's merely a 'side-effect'.
Before seeking help from a doctor or specialist, there's a lot you can do yourself to alleviate the pain of plantar fasciitis:
- Avoid any barefoot walking, especially after getting out of bed in the morning.
- Rest, reduced activity: Avoid long walks, sports and standing on hard surfaces for long periods.
- Ice: Apply an ice pack onto the heel for 5-10 minutes about3 or 4 times a day.
- Reduce the inflammation with anti-inflammatory medication and/or a gel or cream.
- Exercises: Do a number or specific exercises to increase flexibility in your feet and legs.
- Orthotic insoles: Wear orthotic inside your shoe to re-align the foot.
In some cases, your GP will use cortisone-steroid injections (directly into the heel) to target the inflammation. This may work well for some people, but it is not a long-term solution. Research has shown that long-term relief can be achieved by treating the cause of plantar fasciitis with a combination of exercises and orthotic insoles.
Orthotics for plantar Fasciits
There are different types of insoles on the market, including gel pads, cushioning rubber insoles etc. However orthotic insoles are different. Orthotics targets the problem of over-pronation and they support the arches, thereby restoring our natural walking pattern.
In order to effectively treat the cause of plantar fasciitis cushioning under the heel is not enough. It is important to also support the arches and re-align the foot to its natural position.
Orthotic insoles are designed to do exactly that. By supporting the arch of the foot, the tension on the plantar fascia is being released. This means the fascia ligament is no longer pulling away from the heel bone. In turn this will help reduce pain and Inflammation.
In addition, by following a regular exercise program the muscles and ligaments in the foot and lower leg will become more flexible which in turn helps to reduce tension in the plantar fascia.
By supporting arches, orthotics release the tension on the Plantar Fascia