Now that the season is over it’s time to deal with the injuries that have been frustrating us all season. A common injury among both bikers and runners is plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is located on the bottom of the foot. It travels from the medial heel along the arch and inserts into the toes. The plantar fascia functions on the concept of the windlass mechanism. When we push off our toes the plantar fascia tightens to support the medial arch. Plantar fasciitis is caused by overuse or poor foot mechanics causing tearing and inflammation of the plantar fascia.
A symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain that is usually worse in the morning. It is also provoked during or after sports activity. Plantar fasciitis is secondary to overstretching of the fascia. Someone who has faulty biomechanics such as pronation of the foot, are more susceptible. Pronation is an abnormal rolling inward of the foot. Achilles tendon tightness can also contribute to the problem. It causes compensatory motion of the foot putting a stretch on the plantar fascia.
Try some basic treatment techniques to cure plantar fasciitis. These include: icing, stretching your calf 3-5 times per day, reducing your training, massaging your heel/arch and trying an over the counter insert.
In my practice as a physical therapist, I evaluate each patient’s foot mechanics, shoe wear and training program. The goal is to support the foot so that the plantar fascia can heal. I can use other modalities to speed up the healing process; these include taping, orthotics, iontophoresis, ultrasound and soft tissue work.
If these conservative methods don’t work you may need to consult your physician.
*Photo from Plantar-Fasciitis.org