Easing the Strain on Your Feet: Physical Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis
Do you spend a lot of time on your feet? As spring and summer activities take full swing, you may find yourself partaking in more hikes, strolls, runs, and general outdoor excursions. It is important to make sure you’re taking care of your body – from your head to your toes! A lot of people don’t think about the toll we take on our feet, but especially in busy times such as this, we need to make sure we’re paying special attention to them. If you begin to experience pain in your feet, it could be a sign of plantar fasciitis. While this condition can be uncomfortable, it is completely treatable through physical therapy.
What is plantar fasciitis?
When understanding plantar fasciitis, it is important to also understand heel spurs. Plantar fasciitis, also colloquially referred to as “policeman’s heel,” can either develop on its own or as a symptomatic response to heel spurs. Heel spurs are calcium deposits that grow on the bottom of the heel and can cause bone-like protrusions to stick out of the flat underside of the heel. This can result in soreness or pain, which can develop into plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis occurs as an inflammation of the “plantar fascia,” which is a long tissue at the bottom of your feet that connects from the heel bone to the toes. Because of the range of tissue, you may feel pain or soreness in your heel, toes, or the entirety of your foot’s underside. People with plantar fasciitis also report their peak pain occurring in the morning, describing it as a “stabbing pain” that seems to alleviate with mobility as the day progresses. It is also important to contact a doctor if you notice swelling or pain at the bottom of your foot, as it may be a sign of plantar fasciitis, and could be a symptom of heel spurs.
Am I at risk for developing plantar fasciitis?
Like many physical ailments, plantar fasciitis typically forms from physical exertion. A lot of people tend to develop plantar fasciitis when they are engaging in physical activity more often than usual, or when they are spending an abnormal amount of time on their feet compared to their average daily routine.
Some common causes of plantar fasciitis include:
- Spending the whole day, or excessive amounts of the day, on one’s feet; especially when it is out of the ordinary for that person.
- Having either very flat or very high arches on the bottom of one’s feet.
- Participating in short bursts of physical activity, especially when being followed by extended periods of rest.
- The coming of increased age, thus decreasing the flexibility of the plantar fascia tissue, and thinning the padding of the heel.
Treating plantar fasciitis:
Physical therapy is a common treatment for plantar fasciitis. Our physical therapists often work as a team with our local podiatrist to ensure you are receiving the best treatment possible for your condition. At Central Park Physical Therapy, we offer several advanced methods and modalities to treat your pain and relieve inflammation. Your treatment plan may consist of any combination of the following:
- Blood flow restriction therapy.
- Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization.
- Radial shockwave treatment.
- AlterG anti-gravity treadmill.
- Gait analysis.
- Footwear recommendations.
These treatment services are all done as a way to speed up your recovery time by alleviating pain at the source and enhancing your body’s natural healing process. Alternative treatments, such as Tylenol or Advil, can also be used in conjunction with physical therapy, if pain persists. In extreme cases, a surgical procedure can be conducted to remove a spur or release the inflammation of the plantar fascia; however, 90% of people respond well to physical therapy treatments alone, without the need for surgery.
If you begin to notice pain in your heel or foot as you participate in more warm-weather activities, don’t hesitate to contact Central Park Physical Therapy for assistance. We’ll provide you with an individualized treatment plan based around your specific needs, so you can get back to doing the activities you love as quickly as possible!