Foot pain is quite common especially if you are a runner, overweight or you wear certain types of footwear. In today’s blog we will be covering plantar fasciitis, one of the main causes of foot pain and what you can do to prevent, relieve, and cure it.
Plantar fasciitis is a stabbing pain which is felt on the underside of the foot around the heel. The pain usually comes on when you take your first steps in the morning, after sitting or standing for a long time, after exercise e.g. running (not usually painful during). This pain is caused by small tears in the fascia. Many are unsure about the cause of the tears but if we look at the exercise blog post found here we can make sense of it. If you are stressing your tissue by using it too much and not letting it fully recover the tissue becomes irritated and breaks down.
Common risk factors for developing this problem are:
- Age – as we get older our ability to recover is reduced. You may have been able to run everyday at one point with no pain but now find that twice a week is all you can do.
- Foot mechanics – many professionals talk about flat feet, high arches, the actual problem lies with not being able to control the arch of your foot (more on this later).
- Being obese – more weight means more stress on the tissue.
- Excessive standing – if you have a job or hobby that requires you to stand for long periods for example factory work, or teachers.
So how can we relieve the tissue and promote recovery?
Firstly, I would not forcefully stretch the area until the pain has died down. Remember the issue is tiny tears in the tissue, if you have fabric with tears in would you keep pulling it? If you usually wear high heels, I advise you switch to a flatter shoe as high heels can be a cause. Usual treatment involves rest, ice, bracing and anti-inflammatory drugs more information about these can be found here. What I recommend is ice with compression and gentle tissue manipulation. A home remedy is to freeze a bottle of water.
- To do this fill a bottle three quarters full of water.
- Leave standing in the freezer without the lid on (leaving the lid on can twist or bend the bottle).
- Leave for several hours (water freezes in about 3-4 hours).
- Once frozen place the cap back on.
- Sit at a table chair so you can apply pressure better and place the water bottle under your foot.
- Gently apply pressure move your toes up and down.
- You can do this for 10-15 minutes several times per day. Do not go longer than 20 minutes as you may get frostbite.
- Put the bottle back for reuse.
If this seems like hard work, I highly recommend this product shown below. (The image is a link to amazon) It is a roller for you foot that you can freeze, I recommend it to many runners for prevention and recovery.
To brace or not to brace? In many cases bracing the area is not required we want you to adapt and your tissue to become more resilient. However, if you are training for an event or your livelihood depends on it then bracing may be necessary. I still recommend using braces like a crutch with as little use as possible below is a brace for your plantar fasciitis.
Although not a treatment as such, finding the cause of the inflammation and dialling it back until your body adapts is a good idea. For example, at of people have taken up running due to the gyms being closed (thanks Covid!) and have developed this problem as a result, managing your mileage and letting your body recover between bouts of running is most likely the fix see here to get an idea of how best to program your running.
Let me know if these tips have helped you if you need more help please email or leave a comment and I will be in touch.