22 Feb 2018 5:34 PM - when walking becomes a pain....

Plantar fasciitis is a common foot problem that can cause pain to be felt in the heel or arch of the foot during walking and weight bearing activities.

Pain is often felt most first thing in the morning with sufferers commonly describing a sensation of "walking on broken glass" around the inside aspect of the heel. Pain can also worsen after prolonged periods of weight bearing (being on your feet for a long period of time). This can give rise to a constant ache being felt in the arch/heel region along with sharper pain on loading.

What is the plantar fascia?

Essentially the plantar fascia is a broad band of tissue that sits in the arch of the foot connecting the heel (calcaneus) to the forefoot. Its role is to support and help maintain the arch of the foot. In this regard it acts a bit like the string of a bow and arrow - it helps to hold the bones of the foot in a curved position.

What causes fasciitis - the tissue to become painful?

Typically plantar fasciitis arises from an overload of the plantar fascia. This overload can occur for several reasons including (but not limited to):

A sudden increase in amount of weight bearing undertaken - a sudden increase in work hours (where weight bearing is involved) or rapid increase in lower limb training (running or high impact activities).

A change in the type of foot wear worn by the sufferer - especially if the shoe is not as supportive of the arch as a previous pair of shoes.

Poor biomechanics - particularly overpronation (flat footed). This can predispose someone from experiencing this problem as it can lead to excessive stretch and load on the fascia.

Poor muscle activation and support from muscle groups that are designed to support the arch.

In my experience the effective management and resolution of the problem not only involves physiotherapy treatment, but also careful assessment of the lower limb and foot biomechanics. Early intervention is best - the effects of long term overloading typically produces changes in the tissue that can take more time to manage and overcome.

Gaitscan is one of the tools we use at Prevent to help us to assess lower limb and foot biomechanics and pick up biomechanical patterns that may cause a problem like plantar fasciitis (or other lower limb problems) to arise.

The team is here to help if you have any questions or are experiencing heel or foot pain yourself - call the clinic on 8361 8182.

By Matthew Walls

Principal Physiotherapist