Are you experiencing heel pain that limits your ability to walk and stand?
It could be plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is the most common foot condition treated by medical providers and occurs in about 10% of the population over the course of a lifetime. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that attaches from the heel to the toes and helps provide arch support for the foot. Plantar fasciitis is microscopic degeneration and subsequent thickening of the tissue. The heel pain is usually felt with the initial steps in the morning or after prolonged inactivity. The risk factors for plantar fasciitis include limited ankle range of motion, older age, increased body weight, running or a recent increase in physical activity.
What can you do at home to treat plantar fasciitis?
One of the best things you can do at home to treat your heel pain is stretch. Stretching the calf and the plantar fascia helps to increase flexibility and reduce stress on the tissues.
Calf stretching (gastrocnemius & soleus)
- Stand in a stride stance with your involved leg back and your body facing a wall. Keep the back leg straight and heel on the floor. Lean into the wall until a stretch is felt. Hold for 30 seconds. Next, bend the back knee slightly with your heel still on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. Perform 2 sets of the stretches and try to do them 2-3x/day.
Plantar fascia stretching
- In sitting, cross your involved leg over the other leg. Pull your toes back toward your shin until a stretch is felt in your plantar fascia. You can massage the bottom of your foot in this position as well. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and perform 2 times.
Icing: Wrap an ice pack around the bottom of the foot for 10-15 minutes to reduce pain and inflammation. You can also freeze a water bottle and roll it along the bottom of the foot to massage and ice your foot at the same time.
How can a physical therapist help?
- Manual therapy: A physical therapist can perform massage techniques and joint mobilizations to increase ankle range of motion and reduce muscular restrictions.
- Taping: Kinesiotape can be applied in various ways for pain reduction and to improve function.
- Foot Orthoses & Night Splints: Your physical therapist or podiatrist may recommend foot orthoses to support the arch and cushion the heel. Night splints can help to maintain the ideal alignment of your foot while sleeping and reduce pain with the first step in the morning.
- Therapeutic exercises: A physical therapist will perform a full evaluation and develop a personalized exercise program to address any strength and flexibility deficits.
What is the next step towards recovery?
Consider making an appointment with a podiatrist for a thorough evaluation of your heel pain. If you don't have a podiatrist, we would be happy to provide you with a referral to a local physician. Give us a call at Two Trees Ortho to set up an appointment at our Ventura or Oxnard location and start your path towards recovery.
Sarah Wallington, PT, MPT
I am a physical therapist and clinic supervisor at the Two Trees Ortho location in Oxnard (2100 Solar Drive, Ste 204). I specialize in treating orthopedic conditions and I have been a member of the Two Trees team since 2014. I am particularly interested in the foot and ankle and abnormal movement patterns that lead to pain and dysfunction.