Plantar fasciitis is a common and often painful condition that affects the heel and bottom of the foot. It occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes, becomes inflamed or damaged.
This condition can make walking and standing uncomfortable and can greatly impact a person’s quality of life. However, physical therapy is a highly effective treatment option for plantar fasciitis. In this article, I will tell you how physical therapy helps with plantar fasciitis.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot from the heel bone to the toes. It is the most common cause of heel pain.
Plantar Fasciitis Symptom Reasons
The main symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain. The pain is usually worse in the morning when you first get out of bed, and it may also be worse after periods of inactivity, such as sitting or standing for long periods of time. The pain may also be worse when you walk on hard surfaces.
Physical therapy also helps with pelvic pain
symptoms of plantar fasciitis may include:
- Tenderness on the bottom of the foot near the heel
- Swelling on the bottom of the foot
- Difficulty walking or standing
- A feeling of tightness in the arch of the foot
Common risk factors for developing plantar fasciitis include:
- Overuse: Repetitive activities like running, standing for long periods, or walking in inadequate footwear can strain the plantar fascia.
- Biomechanical Issues: Irregularities in foot arches, gait, or leg alignment can contribute to plantar fasciitis.
- Obesity: Excess body weight can put additional stress on the plantar fascia.
- Age: Plantar fasciitis is more common in middle-aged and older adults.
- Occupation: Certain jobs that require prolonged standing or walking can increase the risk.
Is physical therapy helpful for the treatment of plantar fasciitis?
Physical therapy is a conservative and non-invasive approach to managing plantar fasciitis. Here are several ways in which physical therapy helps in the treatment of this condition:
1. Pain Reduction
Physical therapists employ various techniques to alleviate pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Modalities like ultrasound, ice, and electrical stimulation can help reduce inflammation and discomfort.
2. Stretching and Strengthening Exercises
Physical therapy focuses on enhancing the flexibility and strength of the foot and calf muscles. Stretching exercises for the Achilles tendon and calf muscles can relieve tension in the plantar fascia. Strengthening exercises improve the overall support for the arch of the foot.
3. Manual Therapy
Physical therapists may use hands-on techniques like massage and joint mobilization to relieve muscle tightness and improve the range of motion in the foot and ankle.
4. Gait Analysis
An essential part of plantar fasciitis treatment is addressing any issues with an individual’s gait (the way they walk). Physical therapists can analyze gait and recommend changes or orthotics to correct any abnormalities that may contribute to the condition.
5. Footwear Guidance
Inappropriate footwear is a common trigger for plantar fasciitis. Physical therapists can advise patients on choosing proper shoes with good arch support and cushioning.
6. Patient Education
Physical therapists educate patients on self-care techniques and strategies for preventing future episodes of plantar fasciitis. This may include guidance on lifestyle modifications and activity modification.
7. Custom Orthotics
In some cases, custom orthotic devices may be recommended by physical therapists. These are inserts designed to provide additional arch support and cushioning, reducing strain on the plantar fascia.
Benefits of physical therapy for plantar fasciitis
Several key benefits make physical therapy a preferred treatment option for plantar fasciitis:
Physical therapy is a non-surgical approach that avoids the risks and recovery time associated with surgical interventions.
It promotes conservative care, emphasizing less invasive methods before considering more aggressive treatments.
3. Pain Relief
Many patients experience significant pain relief through physical therapy, which can improve their daily activities and overall quality of life.
Physical therapy helps address underlying factors contributing to plantar fasciitis, reducing the risk of future recurrences.
How long does it take for physical therapy to work for plantar fasciitis?
The amount of time it takes for physical therapy to work for plantar fasciitis varies depending on the individual and the severity of their condition. Most people, however, begin to see improvement within a few weeks to a few months.
Should I go to a physical therapist for plantar fasciitis?
Whether or not you should go to a physical therapist for plantar fasciitis depends on the severity of your condition and how well you are responding to home treatment.
If you have mild plantar fasciitis and your pain is improving with rest, ice, and stretching, you may be able to manage your condition without physical therapy.
What are 2 methods to help treat plantar fasciitis?
Here are 2 methods to help treat plantar fasciitis:
1. Stretching and strengthening exercises
Stretching and strengthening exercises are one of the most effective treatments for plantar fasciitis. Stretching helps to lengthen and loosen the plantar fascia while strengthening exercises help to improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles in the foot and ankle.
Some examples of stretching exercises for plantar fasciitis include:
- Calf stretch: Stand facing a wall with your hands placed on the wall at shoulder height. Step one leg back and keep your heel on the ground. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side.
- Plantar fascia stretch: Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you. Loop a towel around the ball of your foot and gently pull your toes towards your body. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side.
Some examples of strengthening exercises for plantar fasciitis include:
- Toe raises: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slowly raise your heels off the ground. Hold for a few seconds and then slowly lower your heels back down. Repeat 10-15 times.
- Towel scrunches: Sit on the ground with a towel spread out in front of you. Place your foot on the towel and use your toes to scrunch the towel towards you. Repeat 10-15 times on each side.
2. Night splints
Night splints are devices that keep your foot in a flexed position overnight. This helps to stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon while you sleep.
Night splints can be purchased over-the-counter or they can be custom-made by a podiatrist or physical therapist.
If you have plantar fasciitis, it is important to talk to your doctor or physical therapist to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
Physical therapy is a highly effective and conservative treatment option for plantar fasciitis. It focuses on reducing pain, improving flexibility and strength, addressing gait issues, and educating patients on self-care.
Physical therapy not only provides relief from the discomfort of plantar fasciitis but also equips patients with the tools to prevent its recurrence.
I am a highly skilled and experienced content writer with a Doctorate in Therapy degree. With a deep understanding of the human body and a passion for health and wellness. I combines my clinical expertise and writing skills to create valuable and engaging content.