Did you know 1 out of 10 people in the U.S. will experience pain along the bottom of the foot a.k.a. Plantar Fasciitis/Fasciosis?!
Better yet, did you know physical therapy has been shown to help with foot/heel pain?
A study by Fraser et al. in 2017 found that evidence-based physical therapy treatment can help patients recover faster and cost you less than if you did not receive physical therapy! The evidence shows a combination of manual therapy + supervised exercise is the best treatment for plantar fasciitis!
So, what is the plantar fascia?
The plantar fascia is a thick aponeurosis that attaches from the calcaneus (heel bone) distally to the phalanges (toes).
The plantar fascia, along with the intrinsic muscles of the foot, stabilizes the arch of the foot.
Who gets plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is very common in the middle-aged population. It is also prevalent in individuals who are active in dancing and running, due to the excessive stress placed through the feet/ankles and especially the metatarsophalangeal joint of the 1st toe.
How do I know if I have plantar fasciitis?
Common symptoms include:
Pain radiating from the middle part of the heel into the arch of the foot
Most intense pain occurring first few steps out of bed in the am or after rest/sitting for a long period of time
Pain that warms up with activity
With symptom progression, pain can limit patient’s ability to weight bear on the involved foot
Pain with prolonged standing, walking
What can I do about it?
If you’re reading this, you’re in luck because physical therapy CAN help! An individualized, guided exercise plan in addition to manual therapy provided by a physical therapist can improve your foot pain!
There have been numerous studies examining various interventions for plantar fasciitis. One study by Latey et al. in 2014 found a link between weakness of the intrinsic foot muscles and painful foot pathology such as plantar fasciitis. Thus, there may be a benefit to strengthening the small muscles of the foot for individuals with foot/heel pain. An example of this would be what we call the “Short Foot Exercise.”
Check out this image to the left, from “The Gait Guys”!
A study by Rathleff et al. in 2014 looked at high load strength training in individuals with plantar fascia/heel pain. High load strength training has been shown to be beneficial for chronic tendon injuries as they provide high tensile load to the tendon. This study involved performing single leg heel raises with the toes elevated on a towel to facilitate the windlass mechanism and thus, stress the plantar fascia. They found that performing this program for 3 months had better outcomes on the outcome measure they used (Functional Foot Index) compared to only stretching the plantar fascia.
As you can see, there is lots of research out there to support physical therapy to help individuals with that annoying foot/heel pain that can limit your ability to do your daily activities and even get up out of bed without pain!
Do yourself a favor & call or schedule to make an appointment today!! Your feet will thank you :)
Kaitlin Hartley, PT, DPT
Fraser et al. Utilization of Physical Therapy Intervention Among Patients With Plantar Fasciitis in the United States. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2017;47(2):49–55.
Plantar fasciitis: Will physical therapy help my foot pain? JOSPT. 2017. 47(2): 56.
Huffer D, Hing W, Newton R, Clair M. Strength training for plantar fasciitis and the intrinsic foot musculature: A systematic review. Physical Therapy in Sport. 2017. 24: 44-52.
Latey PJ, Burns J, Hiller C, Nightingale E.J. Relationship between intrinsic foot muscle weakness and pain: A systematic review. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research. 2014. 7(1): A51.
Rathleff M, Molgaard C, Fredberg U, Kaalund S, Andersen K, Jensen T, et al. High-load strength training improves outcomes in patients with plantar fasciitis: A randomized controlled trial with 12-month follow-up. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 2014. 25(3): 292-300.