Plantar fasciitis is a stubborn injury that’s generally considered the most common cause of adult heel pain out there. Though long-distance runners may be most familiar with the condition, it can occur from a number of activities, and anyone who’s dealt with plantar fasciitis knows of the annoyance it can be.
The plantar fascia is a thick, connective band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel to the toes. It’s designed to absorb the regular stresses we put on the feet and is a rather tough structure, but when too much pressure is applied the tissue can get damaged, leading to inflammation and pain.
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is a stabbing pain near the heel that’s most noticeable upon waking up and after standing for too long. Due to the repetitive stress long-distance runners put on their feet, they experience the injury most frequently. But people who have flat feet or high arches, are overweight or regularly perform any other weight-bearing activity are also at increased risk.
Plantar fasciitis is also notorious for coming back after initial symptoms start to go away, and 10% of patients have the condition for more than one year. This highlights the importance of getting proper treatment early on to keep symptoms at bay, but an even better strategy is to prevent plantar fasciitis in the first place.
For anyone that may be at-risk for developing plantar fasciitis, Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City recommends a series of exercises that will improve your condition and reduce your risk. Some of these exercises include:
- Strengthening exercises: calf raises- stand with toes on the edge of a step, heels hanging off, lower heels past step, then raise back to starting position
- Doming- while standing, press your toe downward into the ground while keeping your heel planted, so that the foot forms an arch (or dome)
- Towel curl- while seated, place a towel on the floor and use only your toes to scrunch the towel toward you, hold it, then push it back to start position
- Flexibility/mobility exercises: standing calf stretch- place hands against a wall with one leg forward and bent, move hips forward to stretch calf
- Plantar fascia stretch- stand with the ball of foot on a stair, reach for the bottom step with your heel until you feel a stretch in the arch of your foot
- Towel stretch- sit on hard surface with leg stretched out in front of you, loop towel around the ball of foot and pull the towel toward your body
- Dissociation exercise: this exercise improves both strength and flexibility
- Motor control exercises: we also offer exercises to improve motor control
The best way to deal with plantar fasciitis is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City can help you in this process, and is glad to provide you with more assistance. Call 212-317-8303 for additional guidance on plantar fasciitis prevention or to schedule an appointment.