Summer is here and many of us are kicking off our boots and sneakers and swapping to thongs and sandals. Some are even walking around barefoot and going on long walks along the beach. While it is great to be out exercising and enjoying the warmer weather, our Physiotherapy clinic here in Dee Why has noticed an increase in foot pain particularly in the heel and arch. Foot pain can be caused by many structures although a usual culprit can be the Plantar Fascia.
The Plantar Fascia is a thick connective tissue that as the structure suggests, connects your heel to the front your foot. The plantar fascia also helps support your arch so you can imagine by reducing the arch support in your shoes, this structure can become over loaded and inflamed. This injury is called plantar fasciitis. Thongs and sandals often have little or no arch support and tend to have a flat base with and open back and no heel support. This places extra load on the arch and the plantar fascia needs to work in over time to support your foot. Once the plantar fascia becomes inflamed and over loaded, it often can take months for the inflammation to resolve as with every step the inflammatory cycle self perpetuates.
Fascia’s are also very innervated which mean they have a high nerve supply and can make them very sensitive. Patients often report the first step in the morning being of most concern and very painful. When you are sleeping, the plantar fascia tightens and so stepping down with all your body weight in the morning, sends a strong stretch signal to this fascia which can cause immense pain.
What can you do to help elevate the pain? Simply steps to trial at home would be to limit the time walking in non supportive foot wear, sadly those long barefoot walks along the beach will need to be put on pause for now. Instead walking in your sneakers and try to have shoes next to your bed that you can step into right when you get up. Also try to find some thongs/sandals with inbuilt arch support and a strap that warps around your heel.
Stretching and ice to the arch of the foot can also help release the plantar fascia and help calm down the inflammation. This can be done with a cold drink bottle under the foot or a deep massage to the area by rolling on a spiky ball. These balls are available at the front desk of our clinic and are great to use before bed to help ease the pain of that dreaded first morning step.
Physiotherapy techniques of strapping to the foot and soft tissue massage can also help reduced and alleviate the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Physiotherapists can also perform a thorough assessment of your body’s ergonomics of how you load through the feet that can aid in making sure the injury doesn’t return.
If you are experiencing heel and arch pain, our physiotherapy clinic in Dee Why is here to guide your recovery and help your return to pain free walking. Please visit out website for online bookings www.inspirephysioandpilates.com.au or call the clinic on 9972 3304 the chat with one of our team.
Written By Rebecca Feros Senior Physiotherapist | Clinical Pilates teacher at Inspire Physiotherapy and Pilates, Dee Why. BAppSc (Ex&SpSc), MPhty, APAM.