Most of us who have experienced plantar fasciopathy know first-hand how frustrating it can be. ‘Stubborn’, ‘debilitating’, ‘annoying’ …not least, it’s a pain to spell!
10% of the general population will experience plantar fasciopathy at some point in their lifetime and it is estimated to account for as much as 8% of all running-related injuries. So, runner or not, it’s worth being clued up.
Plantar fasciopathy is typically characterised as pain in the heel and sole of the foot. Often the first few steps in the morning are painful, as well as walking barefoot and going up stairs. The plantar fascia itself is a tough band of fibrous tissue that extends from the heel bone across the base of the foot towards the toes. The exact cause is understood to be like most running-related injuries and is thought to be associated with ‘overloading’.
..but what is ‘overloading’?
Your soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons etc) all have a capacity to manage load. If you increase the load beyond what they are comfortable managing, you increase your risk of developing an injury. To put it simply – run faster, further and more often than your body can handle and you may end up injured.
So what’s the solution to plantar fasciopathy?
It seems obvious right? But we know it’s a concept most runners struggle with! It may be that you need to reduce the number of runs, adopt a slower pace or even change the terrain – but pain free running is key. Do this, and you will allow the body to kick-start its recovery process.
The foot has a small surface area in comparison to the rest of our body yet we ask it to manage huge forces and move us in all sorts of directions, whilst trying to keep us upright- phew! It is highly important then that our muscles are strong enough to take on this monstrous job and if they aren’t it may result in greater stress through the plantar fascia. Exercises aimed at strengthening our big leg muscles, such as calves, hamstrings, quads and glutes as well as our smaller muscles, including those that stabilise the ankle and control fine movements directly at the foot, are essential.
The structure of your foot can contribute to increased stress through the plantar fascia. The type and quality of the footwear you have can be a quick and easy way of addressing this, but some runners might require additional support in the form of an insole. Our super Podiatrists are on hand, equipped with the skills to make bespoke insoles that are just right for you!
Running is simple – and as with our other running blogs – it merely boils down to how well we move and how able we are to repeat this over distance and time. In the case of plantar fascia, balance, foot control and timing of muscle activation are hugely important.
Around 90% of cases can be resolved with appropriate education, load management and physiotherapy so if you’re looking to manage your symptoms or take a proactive approach to avoiding an injury, our specialist therapists are on hand to help!
Stay tuned for blog 4 where we round off this running series with an issue that has been known to stop Greek heros in the Trogan War- ‘Achilles’ tendinopathy.
She exudes positivity and prides herself on being an enthusiastic and empathetic Physiotherapist. Rachel is there to listen and strives to form strong partnerships with all her clients so they can work together to achieve their rehab goals
Wootton 01604 875950
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