The plantar fascia serves to help support the arch of the foot and plays an important role in the arch’s windlass mechanism for the “push-off” phase of the of the gait cycle.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition of irritation, potential microscopic tears, and inflammation of the thick sheath like band of tissue (plantar fascia) that runs along the bottom of the foot from the calcaneus to the first phalanges of the toes. Plantar fasciitis presents with heel pain, which is worse when you wake in the morning and take your first steps, or after periods of prolonged sitting (non-weight bearing positions), and is more common between the ages of 40 to 60.
Risk Factors for Plantar Fasciitis
- Repetitive motion of running, aerobics, etc.
- Standing for long periods of time, especially on hard surfaces
- Tight calf muscles – can lead to excessive pronation and overcompensation of the plantar fascia at the first metatarsophalangeal joint and stress at its insertion
- Obesity or overweight
- Rapid weight gain during pregnancy
- Poor foot mechanics caused by high-arch or flat foot conditions
Therapeutic Interventions for Plantar Fasciitis
- Acute treatment consists of icing the sole of the foot several times each day
- Stretching the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus)
- Stretching the plantar fascia
- Soft tissue mobilization along the plantar surface of the foot
- Massage of the plantar surface of the foot
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