What can PT do for Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia (pronounced "fa-sha") is a thickened band on connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot from the heel to the ball of the foot. It helps to support the arches of your feet. When this structure becomes inflamed, it is called plantar fasciitis ("fa-she-i-tis").
Signs and Symptoms:
Plantar fasciitis is characterized by pain with stepping. It is usually worse in the morning when first getting out of bed, or standing to walk after prolonged sitting. The pain will usually subside once you are up and walking for awhile. It may be worse with wearing high heeled shoes, or other non-supportive footwear such as flip flops/sandals. The pain is usually sharp initially and may be accompanied by a burning sensation. There may be nodules or bands that form within the fascia caused by scar tissue if the problem persists. People with low arches or flat feet, and those with high arches that over pronate while walking may experience this inflammation if not wearing proper foot wear fro their foot type.
What to do:
- Ice! Use a frozen water bottle and roll it under your foot to help reduce inflammation and pain and provide gentle stretching of the plantar fascia.
- Roll a tennis ball under your foot to gently stretch the fascia when standing first in the morning or after prolonged sitting. This may help reduce the pain of that first few steps.
- See a physical therapist. A PT can assess your feet while you are standing and walking to recommend correct footwear or orthotic inserts to reduce the strain on the plantar fascia while walking, allowing it to rest and heal. They can also perform manual therapy techniques and use modalities to promote tissue healing, reduce pain and correct muscle imbalances within the feet.