Do you wake up with pain in your heel? Do you have pain in your feet when you walk or run? You might have Plantar Fasciitis. And you’re not alone. Plantar fasciitis is the most common foot condition treated by healthcare providers. Here we will explain the very simple things you can do to get rid of your pain.
The plantar fascia is a tight band of connective tissue that runs on the bottom of your foot from your heel to the base of each toe. The tiny bones in your foot connect to form an arch that helps even out the forces felt on your feet when you are standing. It is the plantar fascia’s job to support and maintain the arch so it doesn’t flatten when you stand or walk.
The condition, plantar fasciitis, is often caused by overuse. Symptoms involve sharp or aching pain in the heel and bottom of the foot. It is typically found in runners or people who spend a lot of time on their feet for work. With a lot of standing, the plantar fascia will become overstretched causing small little tears and inflammation leading to pain. Plantar fasciitis can also be found in people who have “flat feet”. If your arch is naturally flatter, the plantar fascia will become too stretched out and not be able to support the bones, causing pain with standing, walking, or running.
Why does my foot hurt in the morning?
When you sleep, your feet naturally fall into a slightly pointed position. With your foot slightly pointed, the plantar fascia is at a shortened length. Just like any body part that stays unmoving for a long period of time, the plantar fascia will become stiff and tight in this shortened length. When you stand up out of bed first thing in the morning, you place weight onto the arch of your feet and stretch the tightened plantar fascia. If the plantar fascia is inflamed from working or running, this stretching will cause you pain.
What do I do?
There are a number of things you can do to help decrease your plantar fasciitis pain.
First, you can stretch. It is important to keep the plantar fascia flexible enough that when it does stretch, it doesn’t cause pain. Also, you have calf muscles that attach to your foot by the thick tendon in the back of your heel, called the Achilles tendon. If these muscles are tight, it can pull on the heel causing your foot to be more slightly pointed, shortening the plantar fascia just like when you are sleeping. Here are some ways you can stretch your plantar fascia and calf muscles:
- Seated Strap Stretch – Sitting on a table or your bed, extend your leg out straight in front of you. Wrap a strap or a dog leash around your foot just below your toes. Slowly pull the strap so that your toes move towards you and you feel a stretch in the back of your calf. Hold 30 seconds and relax. Repeat 3-5 times.
- Standing Stretch – Stand close to and facing a wall. Place toes on the wall, keeping your heel on the ground. Place hands on the wall and slowly lean body toward the wall until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf. Hold 30 seconds and relax. Repeat 3-5 times.
- Tennis Ball Rolls – Sit in a chair with your feet placed on the ground. Place a tennis ball or baseball under your foot. Using your foot, roll the tennis ball from your heel to your toes applying firm pressure downward as you roll. Continue rolling for 3-5 minutes.
You should perform these stretches in the morning before you get out of bed and after a workout or run. It is important to remember to stretch slowly and carefully. Do not thrust your foot into a stretch. That could cause more damage to your plantar fascia and cause you more pain.
Second, you can wear padded inserts or orthotics in your sneakers. Orthotics are useful for anyone, but particularly for people who have naturally flat feet. The inserts provide padding to the middle of your foot creating an arch. The plantar fascia then won’t be too stretched out and you won’t have pain or inflammation. You can get basic orthotics at any pharmacy store or you can order custom-made orthotics through the physical therapists at Total Performance PT.
Third, you can schedule an appointment with Total Performance PT. Our therapists will provide hands-on therapy to your plantar fascia and calf muscles. Hands-on therapy has been proven to decrease pain and improve the flexibility of the foot and ankle. We will also have you perform some basic exercises that will strengthen your foot and ankle muscles to relieve the pain in your foot.
Call Total Performance PT today to schedule your appointment!