Understanding Plantar Fasciitis

If you have never experienced plantar fasciitis, it can be difficult to adequately describe the pain. It’s been likened to a stabbing sensation, a bruise, or a burning feeling on the bottom of the foot, near where the heel connects to the middle foot. The ‘plantar fascia’ is a ligamentous structure that stretches from the ball of the foot to the heel. It helps distribute weight through the foot and helps form the arch of the foot. Due to its limited flexibility, this ligament can become irritated by, for example, standing for a 10-hour shift or running long distances. And, when it does become irritating, the pain tilts more towards agony than discomfort – especially first thing in the morning.

Under the care of a trained physiotherapist or chiropractor, you can learn to overcome the difficulties presented by plantar fasciitis. Our goal at CW Rehab is to reduce your pain while treating the underlying problems. Our practitioners use manual therapy and targeted corrective exercises (and possibly custom orthotics) that both feel good and move you towards optimum health.

What causes plantar fasciitis?

The short explanation? Plantar fasciitis is caused when the plantar fascia becomes irritated and inflamed. It typically presents as the result of overuse but, paradoxically, those who suffer from plantar fasciitis report increases in pain post-workout, rather than during. A longer explanation is explained by Cedar Sinai :

With every step we take, our body weight comes to rest first on the heel and then gradually over the length of the foot. As the foot begins to bear weight, it flattens. This puts pressure on the plantar fascia, which has very little stretch. As we walk, the plantar fascia pulls on its attachment at the heel.

If the foot is properly aligned, this pull causes no problems. If the foot is pronated — meaning it rolls outward at the ankle — the arch falls too much and there is an abnormal amount of pull on the fairly rigid plantar fascia. This causes an abnormally strong pull on the heel where the plantar fascia attaches.

Something similar happens when the foot has supination, meaning it rolls inward. These types of feet are relatively inflexible, usually have a high arch and a short or unusually tight plantar fascia.

What factors contribute to plantar fasciitis?

While there’s still some debate about actual causation (beyond the physical mechanics of stretching the ligament), there seem to be correlations that increase one’s risks of developing plantar fasciitis. The Mayo Clinic put together a list of contributing conditions and factors that increase like the likelihood of experiencing it:

  • Age. Plantar fasciitis is most common in people between the ages of 40 and 60.
  • Certain types of exercise. Activities that place a lot of stress on your heel and attached tissue — such as long-distance running, ballet dancing, and aerobic dance — can contribute to the onset of plantar fasciitis.
  • Foot mechanics. Flat feet, a high arch, or even an atypical pattern of walking can affect the way weight is distributed when you’re standing and can put added stress on the plantar fascia.
  • Obesity. Excess weight puts extra stress on your plantar fascia.
  • Occupations that keep you on your feet. Factory workers, teachers, and others who spend most of their work hours walking or standing on hard surfaces can be at increased risk of plantar fasciitis.

What factors contribute to plantar fasciitis? Can Manual Therapy Treat Plantar Fascitis?

Yes! The plantar fascia is one part of an interconnected system that works best when it’s properly aligned and supported. CW Rehab embraces that approach: by identifying and treating the underlying factors that contribute to your pain, physiotherapy can help you treat and conquer them. Reach out to set up an appointment or go here to book it online.

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491 Church Street
Suite 200
Toronto, ON, M4Y 2C6

CW Rehab is downtown Toronto’s top rehabilitative and whole body wellness clinic. Our team specializes in chiropractic care and systemic disorders, physiotherapy, corrective exercises, and chiropody/podiatry. Our facility is equipped with massage therapy, acupuncture, and sports conditioning to help treat every patient’s needs.

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