The following is an overview of a common source of heel pain.
Plantar Fasciitis is a common condition, usually caused by overuse arising from inflammation of the soft tissues (plantar fascia) which connect to the front of the heel bone (calcaneus). The sufferer will feel pain on the underside of the thick heel pad towards the front and this will be worse in the mornings, particularly when placing the feet on the floor and taking first steps, or after a period of sitting. In both instances, as the blood circulation increases with activity, the soft tissues warm and become more pliable, leading to an easing in the level of discomfort.
The condition may be caused by an increase in activity relative to the norm for that person, so this may range from someone taking an unusually long walk to another person increasing the intensity of a high level training programme. Activities that are more likely to lead to this condition will include repeated impact on harder surfaces such as running, jumping, dance, gymnastics, etc.
Either way, this condition is not always easy to resolve, simply because of the daily loading on the plantar fascia in either standing or walking so complete rest is almost impossible. Rest from the causative action is normally essential to allow the inflammation to subside, and a prolonged period without symptoms is advisable before returning to the activity or level of activity that first caused the problem.
An assessment will include checking footwear, gait, lower limb biomechanics, plus tension in the calf muscles and the plantar fascia. Treatment will often comprise massage to release the tight muscles which may be loading the inflamed area, flexibility and strength exercises to help reduce the risk of further injury, and sometimes wearing night splints to help lengthen the affected tissues. Ice massage may also be applied to good effect on the underside of the foot for no more than 10 minutes and with the usual precautions. Longer term remedies may include foot orthotics, or changing existing footwear.
Director at BeActive Clinic