Now, there are certainly issues that can arise on account of the Achilles tendon, but—as you might expect—plantar fasciitis is an injury to the plantar fascia.
So what is a fascia, and what specifically is the plantar fascia?
Well, a fascia is a thin, fibrous sheath of connective tissue enclosing muscles, groups of muscles, or organs.
The plantar fascia, specifically, bridges the rearfoot to the forefoot. This fibrous tissue runs along the bottom of the foot and supports the arch. In doing so, it’s a bit like the string you pull back on bow before letting an arrow fly.
Plantar fasciitis is a very common overuse injury caused when the plantar fascia is subjected to excessive stress. The extra forces cause tiny tears in the tissue, and repeated stretching and tearing results in irritation, inflammation, and pain.
As we look at the symptoms of the condition, the most easily identified sign of plantar fasciitis is an intense, stabbing pain accompanying the first steps following extended periods of rest. This pain is felt in the bottom of the heel, and is often quite pronounced in the morning (after a night’s sleep).
The heel pain will usually subside in time as you move around, but it does return again after any additional periods of rest or time spent standing in one spot. This is explained by the fact that the body works to repair the fascia during those times of rest, but the subsequent steps rip the tears back open.
That highlights the importance of seeking treatment!
There are stretching exercises that not only can potentially alleviate the pain you encounter with this condition, but also possibly prevent it from happening in the first place. Some of the better stretches you may want to try include:
- Achilles Tendon Stretch – Stand approximately a foot and a half in front of a wall with your hands on it. Place your left foot behind the right one so the toes touch the heel. Keeping your back leg straight, bend your front knee until you feel the stretch in your lower left leg. Hold for 10 seconds and then switch legs. Repeat two more times.
- Plantar Fascia Stretch – Sit barefoot in a chair and place your foot over your knee. Using the hand on the same side as your foot, gently pull back on your toes until you feel a good stretch along the bottom of your foot. Hold for 10 seconds and then switch feet. Repeat two more times.
- Towel Pulls – Place a towel on the floor and grab it with your toes and pull the towel towards you, then switch feet. Repeat 10 times.
Beyond heel pain treatment options that are more traditional in nature, we are proud to offer several state-of-art methods, such as:
- Orthotic Therapy – Depending on the root cause of your condition, we may use specially crafted shoe inserts (orthotics) to control irregular foot motion or provide additional support for any areas of the foot that require it. Unlike off-the-shelf shoe inserts bought at retail stores, these are customized to work with your unique foot structure and gait patterns. (Whereas store-bought inserts can give some extra cushioning or arch support, they are not intended to treat medical conditions in the same way podiatrist-approved inserts or orthotics can.)
- Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) – In this advanced treatment, we capitalize on the energy of powerful acoustic waves, which are directed at the injury site. Once there, the waves stimulate and enhance natural healing processes, along with reducing inflammation and improving blood flow to the area.
- MLS Laser Therapy – Lasers have been playing an increasingly larger role in the medical field, and especially when it comes to treating soft tissue injuries. In the same way that ESWT uses sound, this particular treatment capitalizes on light energy. We can direct amplified light beams (lasers) that are calibrated specifically to travel through tissue and reach the injury site, where the energy then initiates and enhances natural healing processes (repair, regeneration) on a cellular level.
For more information about heel pain or heel pain treatment, either call our office at (937) 435-7477 or connect with us online today.