Physiotherapy for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis refers to discomfort and pain under the heel of a person’s foot.  The plantar fascia is a tough fibrous tissue which plays many vital roles while walking and running. Heel pain or plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia ligament is stressed causing it to stretch and tear resulting in inflammation.

Common symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:

  • Pain under the heel of the foot
  • Worsening symptoms while making the first steps next morning
  • Difficulty walking larger distances due to increasing pain and discomfort of the heel

Physiotherapy treatment for plantar fasciitis includes performing specific stretches and strengthening exercises to increase the flexibility of the ligament and calf muscles. These exercises also aim at strengthening the muscles supporting the arch so that the stress applied to the ligament is significantly reduced.

Make sure you combine your exercise routine with other home care steps such as using custom orthotics (if you do not have these, read the special offer at the bottom), taking pain medication if pain is interfering with daily activities and avoiding activities and exercises that may trigger pain or make heel pain worse.

Our Physio experts suggest that you perform exercises for planter fasciitis as soon as you get out of bed. Seek help from a Physio about your condition and symptoms of plantar fasciitis as soon as possible before it gets worse. The longer you have it, the loner it takes to fix.

Exercises to avoid

There are some exercises that may worsen symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Avoid those exercises that involve pounding the foot repeatedly against a hard or rough surface such as the ground. Examples of exercises that may worsen heel pain include jogging.

Exercises for plantar fasciitis

Physio exercises for plantar fasciitis include:

  • Stretching exercises to stretch the plantar fascia ligament at the bottom of the foot
  • Stretching exercises to stretch the calf muscles
  • Stretching exercises that strengthen the muscles in the ankle and the foot to reduce stress on the ligament

People with less flexible ankles and feet are most likely to suffer from heel pain. Such people may notice that their feet tend to roll inward or flatten as the run or walk.

Following these steps may help resolve heel pain:

  • Warm up and stretch before exercise in order to increase the flexibility of your plantar fascia and prevent injury and inflammation that result in pain and discomfort.
  • Get a pair of custom orthotics using specific technology called GaitScan (available at our clinics – see offer below).
  • Potentially take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen to control pain and inflammation depending on individual advice from your physiotherapist. You may take pain medication half an hour before exercising in order to redcue pain and discomfort during the exercise. Some people also prefer taking pain medication after the recommended exercise to relieve pain. Always seek advice from a qualified Health Professional.
  • Ice your aching heel in order to reduce pain and inflammation after you exercise.

Before getting out of bed

Most people with plantar fasciitis experience immense pain in their heel when they make their first few steps in the morning after getting out of bed. The plantar fasciitis tightens while sleeping and thus results in pain when the person wakes up. It helps to stretch and massage your plantar fascia before getting out of bed or standing up to reduce heel pain.

Follow these steps before standing up:

  • Flex your foot up and down to stretch it. Do this 10 times before standing
  • Stretch your toe before standing
  • Perform a towel stretch using a towel to stretch the lower side of your foot

To reduce heel pain in the morning, you can also:

  • Wear a night sling when you sleep
  • Before getting up, massage the bottom of your feet
  • Wear shoes after getting out of bed – even to the bathroom

Everyday plantar fasciitis exercises

Stretching and strengthening exercises should give you a pulling feeling and should not cause pain. It is a good idea to perform each exercise two to three times a day and avoid doing them all at once. Do these exercises daily:

  • Toe stretch
  • Calf stretch
  • Towel stretch
  • Roll a ball or a rolling pin along the arc of your foot while being seated. You can also do this exercise while standing, if possible

Contact us on (08) 9272 7359 if you would like expert advice on Plantar Fasciitis and your foot wear.