5 Steps To Treating Plantar Fasciitis

Are you struggling with plantar fasciitis? Our experienced podiatrist Jackson Tisdell has put together this resource that can help to provide you with some direction and might make all the difference to your recovery!

Studies have reported up to 1 in 10 people are affected by plantar fasciitis in their lifetime! What’s very interesting is that it is common in both inactive and active people. We see it in 40-60 year olds with a high BMI, and also in around 30% of those who run and are quite fit and healthy.

If left to self-resolve it can become chronic and frustrating, affecting your ability to do the things that you need to do throughout your day:

  • Any job where you need to be on your feet: e.g. hospitality, retail, teaching, hairdressing, tradies
  • Sport: e.g. football, netball, running or playing golf
  • Simple tasks such as taking the dog for a walk, doing housework, or chasing the kids around the park can also become difficult.

Many recommendations for plantar fasciitis are outdated and focus on “quick fix” solutions that aren’t sustainable. At Melbourne Podiatry Clinic we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of high-quality, individualised and evidence-based care. We’re passionate about giving people their lives back with simple and effective strategies that are aligned with their goals.

If you’re looking to get your plantar fasciitis sorted for good, these 5 steps need to form the basis of your recovery plan!

1. GET AN ACCURATE DIAGNOSIS

If you have persistent pain despite trying many different treatments, is the diagnosis right? There are many different things that your foot pain could be. Plantar fasciitis is commonly over-diagnosed, almost becoming a “throw away” diagnosis for any type of foot pain. It’s important that you are seen by someone who knows their stuff and can help you to rule in or out a number of different issues in the same area, so that you don’t miss anything else that may be delaying your recovery! This includes nerve issues, fat pad irritation, bone bruising, fracture, tendon strains and more…!

2. UNDERSTAND THE CAUSE

It's all well and good to treat the symptoms and seek some pain relief, but that will amount to nothing if the underlying cause of the issue in the first place hasn’t been identified and addressed. One person’s plantar fasciitis will not be the same as the next, and people can often become confused when they don’t get the same results as their neighbour, friend or colleague - that’s because their circumstances are completely different!

The cause of plantar fasciitis is often a combination of things, but in its simplest form - the strain on the structures underneath the foot is too high for what they can currently cope with, resulting in pain. The key is to identify why that strain has become too high. Have you started running or walking more than you normally do? Have you put on weight recently? Have you been wearing the wrong footwear? These are just a few examples, that if they aren’t addressed will more likely result in your pain persisting.

3. CALM IT DOWN

If the strain through your foot is too high for the plantar fascia to cope with, we need to reduce this strain and calm everything down. Depending on your circumstances different combinations of strategies to do this will be more effective than others. Wearing good shoes is a great place to start, with running style shoes usually the most effective as they have lots of cushioning and a small heel built within them. You can also strap the foot with tape as a short-term solution, provided it is not irritating. Custom orthotic therapy (insoles) may be required and can be quite effective when designed by a podiatrist. You may also need to review your workloads on your feet and modify them to allow more recovery.

4. BUILD IT UP


Once symptoms have reduced to a more tolerable level, you can commence strength and mobility exercises to improve the overall resilience of the foot. If your foot and the surrounding muscles are strong, then they are less likely to break down when they are placed under stress. There are 4 layers of muscles in the foot, that work in conjunction with the rest of the leg to provide the foot with the stability it needs throughout your day. The level of strength exercises that you need to perform depends on what your goals are. You may start with simple stretching exercises, and progress towards body weight calf muscle strength and endurance. If you are a runner, however, higher load strength, power and jumping exercises will be required to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you need to be (runners have up to 5 x body weight through each step!).

5. BE PATIENT AND CONSISTENT

If getting back to full fitness after plantar fasciitis is important to you then you may need to be patient. Consistent application of the above strategies will get you there, provided you have a plan in place. In more acute cases, your pain may be resolved in as little as 4-6 weeks. In most cases that are chronic in nature, a period of rehab for 12 weeks is common. Working with a professional such as a podiatrist will be the best way to gain clarity and put a tailored plan in place to achieve your goals. Your podiatrist will be able to help you with nailing the diagnosis, unpacking your life to identify the cause of the problem, choosing appropriate “calm it down” strategies, and programming exercises to get your life back to normal.

If you are experienced plantar fasciitis then we can help at both our Essendon and Blackburn clinics. We offer effective treatment solutions such as shockwave therapy, orthotics and customised rehabilitation plans. Click the chat box to ask a question or simply click the book online button to get started on resolving your heel pain for good! 

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Written by Jackson Tisdell, Podiatrist at Melbourne Podiatry Clinic