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Plantar faciitis – How can I treat my sore heel?

July 19, 2019

For some of us, getting out of bed in the morning can be a bit of a struggle at times. For those suffering with plantar fasciitis, there may be an extra reason, as those first few steps in the morning can be a bit of a nightmare! The bottoms of the heels and sometimes arches can feel quite sore and bruised and there is pain with every step. Sound familiar to you? If you or someone you know has experienced it, then you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.

So what is it exactly? Plantar fasciitis is the fancy name for the thickening and inflammation of the fibrous band that runs at the bottom of the foot (the plantar fascia), often due to excess straining and micro-trauma. The area of pain and inflammation tends to be where the band attaches to the bottom of the heel bone, and is one of the most common forms of heel pain.

As Podiatrist we encounter and treat plantar fasciitis and all other forms of heel pain on a daily basis. Below are some of our top tips (which you can do at home) to combat this ailment and get you back on your feet and back to doing what you love, pain free!

Four top tips to combat plantar fasciitis:

1.    Foot rolling exercise – For this, a small roller works best. Things you can use at home include a frozen water bottle, a small narrow PVC pipe, or even a spray can to gently roll the bottom of the foot. Do this standing up and you will want to roll over the sore area with equal and steady pressure, at least twice a day for 2-3 minutes.

2.    Calf muscle stretches – Often a major contributor of plantar fasciitis is excessive tightening of the calf muscles. This can cause an overload or excessive pull or straining of the plantar fascia causing it to flare up. To effectively stretch the calf muscles, using a rigid strap or a towel, loop it across the forefoot and pull both ends towards the chest until a stretch is felt in the calf muscle. Hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat five times either side. Do this 2-3 times a day for best outcome.

3.    Shoes – Wear shoes with a solid heel counter, and good support and stability throughout. If its too flexible and bendy, then it’s not doing your foot any favour and can delay your road to recovery. Laced up shoes are preferred and laces should be done up moderately tight to better support the feet.

4.    Activity modification – Allowing the feet to rest is important for reducing inflammation and tissue repair. It can be difficult with a busy lifestyle to be completely off our feet and may not always be an option. It’s best to temporarily avoid high impact sports and activities that cause heavy pounding and pressure on the heels. Also when you can, avoid prolonged periods of standing, which can further strain the plantar fascia. For exercise, gentle walking on softer surfaces such as grass is a better option than walking on harder concrete surfaces.

Heel pain is quite varied and plantar fasciitis is one of many different forms of heel pain. If you find your pain doesn’t settle, then it’s recommended to see a podiatrist for further investigation. If you would like a professional assessment and advice, contact us for an appointment or book online via our website – we’d love to help out!

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Navid Wali