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  • Writer's pictureHannah Foster-Middleton

How Plantar Fasciitis Affects Movement and Function

Plantar Fasciitis is the inflammation of the band of tissue (plantar fascia) at the bottom of your foot that runs from your heel to your toes, causing pain on the bottom of the foot near the heel. This pain can often be worse when you take your first steps in the morning or after a long period of rest, for example after a long car journey.


The symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis


Increased pain after exercise:  

Exercising repeatedly can injure or tear the plantar fascia, and if you’re just starting, it can put fresh strains on the fascia. 


A swollen heel: 

When the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot is overextended or overworked, swelling occurs.


Tightness in the Achilles tendon: 

Tight Achilles tendons, which connect your calf muscles to your heels, can also cause plantar fascia pain.


Who is affected by Plantar Fasciitis?


Plantar Fasciitis, which affects approximately one in every ten adults, is a frequent issue among active men and women aged 40 to 70. However, women have higher susceptibility than men, and obesity is a risk factor for developing symptoms.

It is not always clear why the inflammation occurs on the plantar fascia but you may be more susceptible to developing symptoms if you:

·         Recently started exercising on a hard surface regularly

·         Exercise whilst having tightness in your calf

·         Overstretching the sole of your foot when exercising

·         Wearing shoes that don’t support your feet regularly

·         Standing for prolonged periods


What are the treatment options for Plantar Fasciitis? 


Accurate diagnosis and treatment are critical for Plantar Fasciitis rehabilitation. This includes a thorough examination of the lower limb to aid the development of a diagnosis and the origin of the discomfort. The treatment attempts to reduce inflammation and pain, repair minor tears in the plantar fascia, enhance strength and flexibility, and allow you to resume normal activities.

Treatment will likely include massage therapy, stretches and strengthening for the lower limb and foot, and other methods such as taping to help support the appropriate structures. 

Polychromatic Light Therapy (PLT) is another treatment option for Plantar Fasciitis. Using specialized equipment, light waves are transmitted through the skin to the damaged area. Evidence suggests that using this procedure enhances blood circulation and cellular activity in the affected area, which can accelerate the body’s healing process. It can also stimulate the nerves, resulting in decreased pain.


Top 5 tips to immediately reduce Plantar Fasciitis symptoms

Fortunately, there are ways to alleviate plantar fasciitis immediately; here are our top 5 suggestions:


Apply ice wrapped in a towel to the area of pain for up to 20 minutes several times throughout the day, or after exercise. Please don’t apply the ice directly onto your skin and this can cause ice burns!

Change how you exercise. 

Keeping active is important but in a way that won’t aggravate your symptoms so changing to low-impact exercise can be beneficial. Swimming is a great way to do this!

Self-tissue release

Grab a golf ball or tennis ball and place your foot on top of it applying some pressure and rolling the ball backwards and forwards to help reduce tightness in the plantar fascia.

Changing footwear 

It is recommended to wear supportive footwear that has a shock-absorbing insole and adequate arch support and avoid walking in bare feet or flip-flops



Regular stretching is an important part of treatment; here are two really useful ones!  




Stretches to relieve Plantar Fasciitis symptoms


Plantar fascia stretch: 

Place the front of your foot and toes against the wall and lean forward over your ankle until you feel the stretch on the bottom of your foot. Hold this for up to a minute.

Gastrocnemius stretch: 

Using a wall for support, plant your affected foot flat on the floor behind you. Keeping this leg straight, lean forward reducing the angle between your front foot and shin until you feel the stretch in your calf muscle of the leg planted behind you, ensuring your heel doesn’t come off the floor. Hold this for up to a minute. 


Plantar fasciitis can have a significant impact on your movement even during the most basic everyday tasks; if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, please contact an experienced physiotherapist right away.


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