Topics in Physical Therapy: Plantar Fasciitis

What is Plantar Fasciitis?  Plantar fasciitis is inflammation in the thick tissue (plantar fascia) of the bottom of the foot.  The plantar fascia connects the bone in the heel to the bones of the toes and helps to form the arch of the foot.

What does it typically feel like?

  • Pain and/or tightness on the bottom of the foot
  •  Pain that is worse in the morning or after being in one    position for a long period of time
  • Pain that slowly decreases with activity initially and then increases again when activity continues throughout the day
  • Pain when lifting the big toe up
  • Tightness in the calf muscles

What are some common causes?

  • Repetitive microtrauma over many years with a gradual onset and no specific   injury
  • Excessive pronation (rotation inward, flat foot)
  • Sudden increase or decrease in activity level
  • Heel spur

Risk factors for developing Plantar Fasciitis

  • Participation in endurance sports
  • Prolonged sitting or standing (decreased ankle flexibility)
  • Change in lifestyle or activity level
  • Obesity or sudden weight gain

Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

  • Anti-inflammatory medication

How will a Physical Therapist treat Plantar Fasciitis?

  • Stretching of the plantar fascia and calf muscles
  • Soft tissue mobilization
  • Strengthen intrinsic/extrinsic muscles to support the arch
  • Modalities to decrease inflammation and increase healing
  • Education on activity modifications and how to reduce the amount of stress on the bottom of the foot
  • Shoe recommendation and/or modification
  • Orthotics/night splints
  • Taping