Plantar fasciitis: Why does the bottom of my heel hurt so bad?
About 10% of the population have experienced heel pain in their lifetime. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. At Prohealth Sports and Spinal Physio, we also had lots of clients coming to us for this reason. In this issue, we invited our physiotherapist Dina to share with us more about plantar fasciitis.
What is plantar fasciitis?
Dina: There is a tough tissue under the bottom of your foot, stretches underneath the sole of the foot and attaches at the heel, referred to as the plantar fascia. Its job is to maintain the arch of the foot – it acts as a bowstring pulled between the heel and the toes. This fascia can become inflamed by disease, injury or repetitive excessive loading. Inflammation of the plantar fascia is referred to as plantar fasciitis.
Which demographic is most prone to plantar fascia in Hong Kong?
- Female gender
- People with high arches or those that have severe flat feet
- Occupations requiring walking or standing on hard surfaces
Plantar fasciitis is also named as Jogger’s heel. And you also say this is more common among runners, why is it so?
- Dina: Runners do visit us for their heel pain, especially during the training season. They may have altered the volume or intensity which exceeds their physical capacity. Some of them told me that they do not work on any strength and conditioning at all. This may put the fascia to more stress without the adequate muscles support higher up in their kinetic chain.
How do you treat plantar fasciitis?
- Dina: Treatment starts by relieving their pain by offloading the fascia. Soft tissue release of the calf muscles can help lessen the tightness contribute to the condition. I would advise them to work on exercise improving the mobility and flexibility around the ankle joint. I also focus on identifying the causes of the heel pain, as correcting them will form part of the treatment, so there is not a recipe that will fit every patient. While someone with a severe flat foot may need to see a podiatrist. Podiatrists specialise in custom-made orthotics that help offload the plantar fascia for daily activities.
As the most common cause of heel pain, can you share some tips on how to manage plantar fasciitis?
Dina: Plantar fasciitis tends to start gradually, often just in the heel, but it can sometimes be felt along the whole of the plantar fascia. Notice it early and offload, can help speed up the recovery and resume to activities much faster. It initially worse in the morning rather than during activity. Talk to your physiotherapist as soon as you can before the symptoms become more persistent.