Plantar Fasciitis and how to treat it 209



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Plantar Fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia on the sole of your feet.

The plantar fascia is a double layered fibrous tissue on the plantar (sole) side of your foot. It attaches to the calcaneus, the heel bone, and then fans forward to attach to the base of all the toes. This attachment means that the plantar fascia helps to maintain the integrity of the arch of the feet, and also functions to transmit force from the ground, as we walk, stand, or play, to the bones muscles and ligaments of the foot, ankle, lower leg, knee etc (the foot bone is connected to the shin bone after all!). And, what goes up, must come down as well, so as force is transmitted from the surfaces we walk/run/play on up the body, so too, what happens from above, affects the tissues below. As such, the causes of plantar fasciitis can be many and varied and may include knee, ankle and hip injuries or compensations above, muscle hypertonia (tight calves and hamstrings for example), as well as direct trauma (compression or over-stretching) of the plantar fascia itself – including poorly fitted shoes or repetitive injuries.

The other factor which really comes in to play with foot problems, and plantar fasciitis is included under this umbrella, is the modern ailment of jamming our very sensory feet in to sense dulling shoes. There are 26 bones in each foot, and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, and this structure of the foot is really for informing us, our body/brain, about the terrain that it is covering. Tight and immobile feet and toes contribute greatly to increased load on the plantar fascia, which in turn increases the likelihood if irritation and inflammation.

Non-surgical treatment

You firstly want to identify any causative factors, which could be any of the following:

  • Poor lower limb and lumbo-pelvic mechanics such as flat feet, knock knees and weak glutes
  • Being overweight (increases the load/strain on the plantar fascia)
  • Poor footwear (unsupportive or lacking shock absorption), especially if working on feet all day.
  • Tightness in the lower limb muscles, especially the calf and plantar fascia itself
  • Stiffness in the ankle joint and surrounding foot joints, especially the big toe.

Effective treatment of plantar fasciitis should take all these factors in to account, but primarily, non-surgical treatment of the plantar fascia should include stretching of the calves, hamstrings and plantar fascia, the use of ice when acute, say a frozen water bottle rolled in the arch of the foot, working on balance and proprioception of the foot and ankle (try brushing your teeth while standing on one leg!) as well as massage of the plantar fascia with a massage ball/tennis ball/ golf ball and articulation of the bones of the feet and toes.

Treatment options include:

  • Manual therapy such as osteopathy, providing soft tissue massage to the lower limb, mobilising joint restrictions in the lower limb and instruction on strength and stretch measures to improve glute and core strength, flexibility in the ankle and arch integrity. They may also strap/tape the arch to assist in arch support in the short term, and to determine whether orthotics may be indicated. (Referral to a podiatrist may be required).
  • Certain medications such as NSAID’s (anti-inflammatories) may assist in reducing inflammation and provide a degree of symptomatic relief. (Long term use is not recommended however, as it may only act like a band-aid, and not get to the cause of the problem)
  • Assessment from a podiatrist may reveal an underlying mechanical issue that may require a supportive orthotic device, or they may provide advice on appropriate footwear.


What are some exercises tennis players and golfers can do to prevent plantar fasciitis?

Exercises with a particular focus on stretching the calf and icing the plantar fascia/arch post exercise, and in between bouts of exercise rolling the arch with the frozen lime (or water bottle).


By osteopaths Claire Craig and Chris Reeves

Guest Contributor

  1. i have been plagued with plantar fasciitis for over 6 months..i have tried every remedy-including those you have mentioned. i would love to find some relief, i do not think there is anything that really works-it developed when i was travelling and walking a lot-i have been told it can go away after 12 months, but not always.

    3 REPLY
    • Go to a physiotherapist who will show you how to tape it. You of course need to eliminate the causal factor, but I got rid of mine by taping my foot (mine was caused by one specific day of a LOT of walking wearing only flip-flops).

    • TryTry acupuncture. I had plantar fasciitis back in the 90s and notHing worked. I tried everything until a friend suggested acupuncture. I was very sceptical but as I had hit desperate I tried it and I have never had the pain again. I also have supports in my shoes made by a podiatrist but that was after the acupuncture. Try it you might be surprised

  2. I found placing a small rubber ball on the floor, & rolling it around with the affected help. Also found orthotics helped, & soaking my feet in warm water with Epsom salts greatly helped. Chiropractor also a great help

  3. I have had this november last year I wish it would go away

    3 REPLY
    • It took over a year for it to settle for me. I found that standing still for more than a few minutes was worst. Just keep persisting with gentle treatment, and it will eventually improve. For the last year or so, I have had only occasional twinges. Avoid wearing high heels. They are the worst

    • Thankyou Maureen Hogan I have had it twice in the last 15 years
      It hurst so much I might have to go to drs for some pain killers that helped fo a while

    • I do hope you find some relief Helen. It affects your whole life when you can’t stand or walk without such pain.

  4. Extremely painful. Finally fixed after quite a bit of physiotherapy. Wouldn’t want it again.

  5. My husband found the orthotic provided by podiatrist very effective.

    2 REPLY
    • I’ve had it in the past …. i firmly believe that the hydrotherapy exercises and stretches i do have fixed the problem. See a physio to get yhe exercises to do in heated pool. 🙂

  6. I used to suffer badly then someone put me on to this. Wrap your heel in banana peel every night for 6 weeks. No more troubles. I would cut a banana in half put one half in the fridge and peel the other half eat the banana and cup my heel with the peel and bandage it up. In the morning take it off. Do this every night for 6 weeks. Its great.

    5 REPLY
  7. When my wife got plantar fasciitis and a calcineal spur, she began buying sandals trying to get relief. I thought she had developed a sandals fetish, but when I got a plantar fasciitis (no spur), I realised why she was trying for relief.
    She used a golf ball to run the spur down and I used it daily to help prevent the spur. Eventually the condition went and hasn’t recurred .

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