The plantar fascia is a strong band of tissue on the bottom of your foot that travels from the heel to the toes. It supports the arch of your foot, which is especially important when walking. Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain that occurs when the plantar fascia becomes inflamed.
At Concord Podiatry, board-certified foot and ankle specialist David Biss, DPM, offers a full range of podiatry services at his locations in Concord and Plymouth, New Hampshire, and he has extensive experience treating issues like plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis can make it painful to walk and interfere with your ability to lead an active lifestyle. Physical therapy is often the first-line treatment recommendation for easing plantar fasciitis pain and promoting healing.
Plantar fasciitis is caused by increased stress or tension on the plantar fascia from things such as increased activity levels, sudden strain, inadequate footwear, and tendon tightness.
This type of heel pain is especially apparent first thing in the morning and after long periods of standing or inactivity, and plantar fasciitis pain typically worsens over time. Pain may occur suddenly after movement such as jumping, or it can seem to strike out of nowhere.
Your level of discomfort may decrease with activity during the day or after warming up, but it can increase with prolonged or strenuous activity. Wearing shoes with poor support can aggravate heel pain.
Physical therapy is shown to significantly improve plantar fasciitis recovery. It can help reduce plantar fasciitis pain so you can move and be active without heel pain. A physical therapist also works to address any factors that contributed to the pain in the first place, lowering your risk of re-injury.
Here are four of the benefits of physical therapy for plantar fasciitis.
Proper footwear can help to keep your foot in a more natural position, support the arch, and reduce strain on the plantar fascia. Activity modification with the help of a physical therapist can help you stay involved in activities while reducing the amount of stress on your ankle, allowing it to recover.
Orthotics, customized shoe inserts, can improve arch support, but the ultimate goal of physical therapy is to strengthen the foot muscles so they can adequately support and stabilize the arch without the need for external support.
Your physical therapist may recommend night splints to address your pain. They keep the Achilles tendon, calf muscles, and plantar fascia stretched so they don't tighten up overnight, which can help reduce morning pain associated with plantar fasciitis.
Calf muscle tightness and Achilles tendon mobility restrictions can cause tension in your plantar fascia. Your physical therapist can assess which areas of your body are restricted and work with you on stretching exercises to help.
Physical therapy for plantar fasciitis also increases the strength, endurance, and neuromuscular control of your ankle and foot muscles. This can help to support the arch and reduce tension through the plantar fascia so you can move better with less pain.
Muscle weaknesses in your hips, feet, and core can alter how your entire lower leg moves and lands during jumps and running, predisposing your ankle and foot to overuse injury. Your physical therapist can perform an evaluation to determine which areas of your body are weaker and create an exercise regimen to correct these issues.
During a typical evaluation, physical therapists are trained not only to identify muscle weaknesses and imbalances, but also to understand how these deficits can impair walking or running.
A physical therapist can prescribe exercises to address observed deficiencies based on an analysis of muscle function. Functional exercises focus on how the body functions as a unit during activities. This improves movement and reduces recurrence of foot issues like plantar fasciitis.
If you’re dealing with painful plantar fasciitis and want to learn more about how physical therapy can help you live a more enjoyable and pain-free life, contact the Concord Podiatry team by calling or texting today to set up an appointment.