What is plantar fasciitis?
Suffering from constant pain and tightness on the bottom of the heel or foot? It could be what is known as plantar fasciitis! Around 2 million individuals are treated for PF every year in the UK and is the number one cause of foot and heel pain in adults. If you have plantar fasciitis then it is important that you take it very seriously, as not treating the injury properly can cause it to become chronic and cause long-term damage to your feet.
Plantar Fasciitis is when the plantar fascia becomes inflamed. The Plantar Fascia is a strong band of tissue that spans the length of the arch of the foot. The fascia’s job is to support the arch of the foot – it works as a bowstring mechanisms helping to pull between the heel and the toes. While walking or running, during the toe-off stage of the gait cycle, the Plantar Fascia will become taut and allows the foot to work as a lever to help propel you forward. The fascia is also one of the main stabilizing structures of the foot without it you would have no balance or stability in your feet. The plantar fascia is designed to absorb the high stresses and strains we place on our feet. But, often, excessive pressure on the fascia can cause damage or tears to it leading to plantar fasciitis.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis comprise of progressive onset of pain found underneath the heel of which can also radiate around the foot itself. The symptoms tend to be worse when you first wake up in the morning and get better during activity. As the plantar fasciitis gets worse, the symptoms become more chronic.
Plantar Fasciitis is a very common foot injury that can affect anyone given the right circumstances. There are lots of different reasons why you might develop this foot injury. One of the main reasons is because of biomechanical imbalances such as overpronation or supination during the gait cycle, this can lead to excessive pressure and stress on the plantar fascia leading to PF. However, there are a number of other things that can lead to PF such as:
- If you have foot problems, such as very high arches or very flat feet
- If you have tighter than normal calf muscles which can tighten the plantar fascia.
- If you are obese or have sudden weight gain
- If you feet suffer from excessive and repeated shocks
- Sudden new or increased activity that your feet are simply not used to.
- Aging can cause the muscles and ligaments found in our feet to degenerate making us more susceptible to damage and plantar fasciitis as a result.
Treating plantar fasciitis with insoles
Lessening the inflammation around the plantar fascia is a vital part of treatment, however , reducing inflammation will not treat the root cause of your Plantar fasciitis, that is why wearing orthotic insoles that help to realign your foot and correct underlining foot problems causing excessive strain on your plantar fasciitis is a must, if you want to get rid of it once and for all!
Orthotic insoles are the number one treatment option used by podiatrists, chiropodists, and physiotherapists to treat PF. Orthotic insoles for plantar fasciitis are designed to help minimize the pressure and resulting inflammation linked with PF.
Insoles are ideal for absolutely anyone suffering from PF or just foot pain in general, but there are so many different types of insoles to choose from so it can be quite difficult picking the right ones for you. Luckily we have devised this mini guide to help you pick the right pair for you.
Heel cups inserts are commonly prescribed by a number of podiatrists to help better treat plantar fasciitis and function in two different ways. First of all, heel cups help to lift the heel up just a bit which in turn helps to ease the tension on the Achilles tendon, by reducing tension in the Achilles heel this also has the knock-on effect of easing tension on the plantar fascia itself. Heel cups also help to give the wearer the cushioning and shock absorption for the heel that they need, which again helps to minimize the pressure on the plantar fascia. Heel cups are the best choice if you are suffering from heel or heel spur pain from PF.
Heel cups are the most compact and the most basic form of inserts for plantar fasciitis. They will easily slip into just about any type of shoe that you can think of and are more often than not made from a gel substance or plastic that will help to absorb shocks, stopping shocks from causing further damage to your heel and foot. Heel cups are much more lightweight flexible than other orthotic devices and thus making them a preferred option for athletes and runners to use inside their running shoes.
In some cases, some individuals may require extra support than just at the heel and may need full-length orthotic insoles for plantar fasciitis instead. Full-length insoles are designed to correct foot biomechanical problems such as overpronation and supination by supporting the foot’s arch in a more natural position helping to reduce the pressure on the plantar fascia. Full-length insoles also give the wearer cushioning and support all over the sole of the foot instead of just around the heel.
Wearing a night splint is also a great way to treat and ease plantar fasciitis whilst you are sleeping. This is becuase whilst we sleep our feet will be pointing downwards which can cause the calf, muscles, Achilles tendon and plantar fascia to tighten, night splints help to stop this from happening. Night splints are designed to stretch the foot and toes back slightly whilst you sleep. Helping to keep the Achilles and plantar fascia from tightening overnight.
More often than not individuals that choose to wear a night splint will often find that they no longer get sharp stabbing pains in their heels attributed to plantar fasciitis when they are getting up and taking their first steps in the morning. Studies have shown that those who wear night splints often recover quicker than those who do not wear a night splint because they help stop additional micro-tears developing on the plantar fascia, allowing the plantar fascia to heal.
Based on the severity of your plantar fasciitis insoles may not be enough to fix your PF. There is a range of other treatments that you can try that can be used alongside wearing insoles to such as stretching, changing your shoes to more supportive ones as well as losing weight to help keep the pressure off your feet and keep plantar fasciitis at bay.