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Plantar fasciitis can slow you down. Here’s what you can do

Are you experiencing pain in your heel and arch when you get out of bed in the morning? Does this pain worsen with increased time on your feet? If so, you are not alone. A million Americans every year experience symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Statistics show that 10 percent of us will experience this over our lifetime. 

Plantar fasciitis makes up 15 percent of all foot complaints requiring professional care for both athletic and non-athletic populations. It also makes up 8 percent of all running injuries. With statistics like these, it is no surprise that we see several patients in our clinics with this diagnosis.  

The cause

We know that limitations in ankle range of motion (dorsiflexion) and being overweight (increased body mass index) are the two most significant predictors of plantar fasciitis.

The next two best predictors are increased time spent on your feet at work and high volume running. Approximately 80 percent of people with plantar fasciitis will have a resolution of symptoms in a year.

Making the decision to seek out physical therapy can significantly increase the success rate and speed up your recovery, often with much improvement in four to six weeks.  

Treatment

Treatment should include stretching exercises and manual therapy to improve ankle dorsiflexion as well as plantar fascia, and calf muscle flexibility.

Treatment should also include exercises to improve foot and ankle strength and overall fitness. Research shows that using an orthotic, either custom or prefabricated, can be of great help to support the arch and pad the heel. Studies also indicate that the use of a night splint is helpful if you are experiencing first step pain upon waking.  

Proper footwear, patient education, and taping are also shown to have benefits. Specialty treatments available at ORS such as the Graston Technique ®(instrument assisted soft tissue work) and the Piezowave (acoustic compression therapy, ESWT) has significantly improved our outcomes with plantar fasciitis cases.

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Aaron Holly, MSPT, MTC, is the vice president of professional development and the Okemos clinic director at Orthopedic Rehab Specialists. Reach him at (517) 220-4540.

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