Symmetry Blog

Injury of the week - Plantar Fascia

Symmetry Physio - Thursday, May 31, 2018

Harry Taylor has been struck down with Plantar Fascia, another blow to Geelong's list of tall players out injured.

Injury of the week - Plantar Fascia

With Harry Taylor being a late withdrawal from Geelong's clash with the Blues last weekend due to ongoing issues with Plantar Fascia in his foot; we thought we would take a closer look at an injury that we see in people of all ages and fitness levels.

What is it?
The Plantar Fascia is a thick band of connective tissue beginning at the base of the heel bone and extending along the bottom of the foot towards the toes forming the arch of the foot. The Plantar Fascia has two main functions:

  • It supports the arch of the foot by acting as a natural stabiliser and passive shock absorber when the foot bears weight.

  • It plays a very important role in the normal mechanical function of the foot during our walking cycle, running, jumping etc. by allowing us to push off.

What causes Plantar Fascia pain?
 The number one cause of Plantar Fascia is overuse or overtraining. Another cause is exposure to unaccustomed training or exercise load e.g. beginning a new exercise/running program too quickly. Low arch or flat feet can contribute, as this causes over-pronation of the foot and more force/pressure goes through the Plantar Fascia. Wearing unsupportive footwear and weight gain can also contribute.

Symptoms: You will generally first notice Plantar Fascia pain underneath your heel but this can extend down to the middle of the foot and/or to the inside or outside of the heel. It can feel like a sharp stabbing type of pain that is often most intense with the first few steps in the day or after sitting/resting for a while. You may also experience pain after standing for long periods, and you may also get some mild swelling in the heel.

How do we treat it?
The good news is that Plantar Fascia pain responds very well to conservative management in but a few cases. Invasive measures like injections and surgery are rarely needed. The most important step initially is to offload the foot. This includes rest from exercise or aggravating activities, taping, soft tissue release, gentle stretching and ensuring appropriate supportive footwear is worn - occasionally a podiatrist may recommend orthotics or inserts for your shoe to support your foot. Because mornings are often the most painful, we commonly ask patients to do a gradual stretching routine in the morning to slowly get the foot used to weight bearing again after 6-8 hours of complete rest. Following this initial phase, we can begin to re-load the foot with a physiotherapy monitored strengthening program for the calf muscles and small muscles of the foot.

It is important to have your foot looked at by a physiotherapist or podiatrist as early as possible if you suspect you might have Plantar Fascia pain.

The Team at Symmetry Physiotherapy.

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