Those poor feet! Every time you take a step, the tissues in the feet must absorb forces several times your body weight. It’s no wonder that sometimes the system breaks downs.
The Plantar Fascia is a thick elastic band of tissue that stretches from the heel to the base of the toes but don’t forget mantra #1 ‘everything’s connected’, so works with the fascia of the back line to store and return energy making us springy.
PF tends to produce pain during the push off phase whilst running as, due to its powerful attachment, part of it’s job is to stabilise the forefoot during the large forces produced during this part of the stride.
Recent research has shown that it’s actually more of a tendinopathy (rather than a tendinitis) where there is a degenerative process involved including collagen breakdown, hence why you may hear of it called Plantar Fasciopathy.
The symptoms can include:
A sharp stabbing pain or deep ache in the arch of your foot or in the middle of the bottom of your heel
Stiffness or pain first thing in the morning that tends to lesson with a few steps but worsen as the day progresses.
Pain that worsens when climbing stairs or standing on one’s toes.
It can be caused by a variety of factors such as over-training, performing repeated hill workouts or speed work, wearing unsupportive shoes or a general lack of foot strength.
It can also be triggered by bio-mechanical factors such as fallen arches, pronation or tension held further up the facial chain.
Unfortunately it’s one of those conditions that niggle around for a number of months (3-6 typically but possibly longer if you’re on your feet for long periods or lifting heavy objects.)
So how do we improve things? Somethings you can do yourself are:
Try gently mobilising the fascia by rolling your foot over a hard ball is an easy win as it can be performed whilst sitting in front of the TV! Or manually pulling your toes back especially first thing in the morning may help.
Continue to mobilise the ankle (and therefore the Achilles tendon) and calf frequently by drawing circles in the air with your toes.
Then it’s time to bring in the professionals.
Have your shoes checked by a specialist running shop to ensure they are offering the correct support.
Seek treatment from a therapist to assist you in reducing the tension along the whole of the back facial line (including hamstring length, lower back and right up to the shoulders and neck.)
To stop it reoccurring, make sure you run on a variety of surfaces and look to strengthen the muscles your foot. Keep as much range within the hips as possible and avoid continual low back pain. A therapist can help with all of these but do keep moving!
Extracts taken from Co-Kinetic Advice Handout July 2018