Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. This condition impacts the plantar fascia, which is a thick band of fibrous connective tissue on the bottom of the foot that extends from the heel to the toes. Based on its location and makeup, the plantar fascia is ideally positioned to maintain and support the arch on the bottom of the foot. However, it is not designed to be the primary stabilizing structure.
Both muscles and tendons of the foot perform a primary stabilizing role, but weakness or dysfunction of these muscles can increase demand on the plantar fascia. This may lead to the characteristic heel pain experienced by those dealing with plantar fasciitis. This heel pain results from increased tension in the plantar fascia pulling on the attachment site at the heel when the foot is loaded with weight bearing. In addition, the plantar fascia can become inflamed or tight for a number of other reasons, including prolonged standing, beginning a fitness program or activity with increased weight bearing demands, calf tightness, decreased ankle dorsiflexion range of motion, increased BMI, or a high or low arch.
Poor running mechanics, change in activities or footwear, and dysfunction in the muscles of the hip or leg may also result in gait alterations and weight bearing that can lead to increased demand on the plantar fascia. Therefore, if plantar fasciitis symptoms become chronic or fail to resolve, an evaluation by a physical therapist to determine the underlying cause(s) is recommended.
Plantar fasciitis is most prevalent in athletes, commonly runners, as well as sedentary, overweight individuals. The condition also commonly occurs in patients with either flat or high arches, and is frequently associated with decreased ankle range of motion, poor calf flexibility, and decreased foot and ankle strength. In addition, plantar fasciitis is commonly noted in populations with decreased hip strength and lower extremity stability, as well as those with alterations in gait or weight acceptance on the foot.
Fascia mobilization – Mobilization of the fascial adhesions on the plantar surface of the foot is essential to remodel scar tissue and improve pliability for weight bearing demands. While ball rolling on the bottom of the foot to address muscle tension can assist with mobility, it usually is not deep enough to localize restrictions. Not only can a therapist more specifically target primary restricted regions, but he/she also can address limitations in ankle and foot mobility prohibiting the foot from adapting to the ground for even weight distribution with walking.
If you have symptoms of plantar fasciitis, schedule a free assessment at a nearby Athletico clinic today so our experts can provide treatment recommendations and help you get back to doing the things you love to do.
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