Foot Pain / Plantar fasciitis
This is a very debilitating condition caused by inflammation in the thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot from your heel to your toes called the “plantar fascia” It causes a stabbing pain in the heel and can lead to pain along to the toes. the pain is usually more significant in the mornings when you get up and after exercise.
Prone to this condition are people who are overweight, runners, and people with inadequate support in their footwear.
This condition can also occur frequently in people with jobs where they are standing for the majority of the time on hard surfaces, Police, teachers, factory workers, etc.
Certain types of exercise can also contribute to the condition, distance running, ballet dancing, etc.
It is most common in people between the ages of 40 and 60
And believe me, if you have it you definitely know about it!
Ignoring plantar fasciitis can lead to other problems such as knee, back, and hip problems as we tend to change our body mechanics to compensate for the pain.
It has been known for plantar fasciitis to go by itself! One day you can wake up and it will be gone. However, it does tend to stay with you for at least 2 years before this happens.
I have heard in my time of extreme measures of dealing with the condition such as surgery where they would detach the fascia, this however sounds almost barbaric. Injections, ultrasound, and shockwave therapy are other medical remedies of the condition.
Plantar fasciitis has generally been treated through gentle stretching of the foot and the Achilles tendon and using a foot roller etc. You might also be recommended insoles/ foot supports to distribute your weight more evenly.
I, through my experiences and research, have a slightly different take on the issue of plantar fasciitis. In my article on back problems I use the phrase “Treat the cause not the symptoms” And while I accept that the initial cause may be inflammation of the fascia, this is caused by problems elsewhere. such as tightness in the calf muscles, hips, glutes as well as lower back issues. You see this is is the problem with our bodies one thing causes another and then the condition caused causes the 1st condition to worsen and therefore prolong the suffering. A vicious circle of pain unless we learn how to break it.
Below are 4 exercises I recommend to fight Plantar fasciitis.
All Stretches should be held in position for 30 seconds and done on both sides, whilst breathing into and out from the diaphragm.
- Standing close to a wall, place the toes and ball of 1 foot on the wall, keeping the front leg straight push off the heel onto the toes. You should feel the stretch in the Achilles and the calf of the front leg.
- Front lunge position, Placing your hands on the wall, lead foot close to the wall and the rear leg stretched out to the back. Bend the front knee making sure that the knee doesn’t go over the toe. Keep your rear heel on or as close to the floor as possible, until you feel the stretch in the calf and back of the knee of the rear leg.
- The same as stretch 2 but with the variation of taking the front foot/leg across the body. This time you should feel the stretch to the outside of the rear leg. Image 2 shows a rear view of the stretch.
- Standing sideways on to the wall, lift and bend at the knee. Then push your hip towards the wall. the stretch should be felt in the glute of the supporting leg.
These specific exercises should be done 3 times a day if you have foot pain as well as in conjunction with other exercises previously shown for back and knee problems.
Hopefully, within 2 weeks you should feel some benefit. However, this is not the time to say OK that’s better! It’s time to step up your exercise routine.
Other causes of foot pain include.
These can be caused by a variety of reasons. Many however do reflect heavily on the use and type of footwear used.
- Achilles tendonitis: An overuse issue, associated with impact sports. can be found in people who also only do sport sporadically. Especially in middle age. More serious cases can lead to torn tendons.
- Bunions: A bony bump on the joint at the base of your big toe, can be red and sore, forcing the tip of your big toe towards the other toes. Wearing tight or narrow shoes, as well as arthritis or foot deformity, can cause bunions.
- Calluses: Normally caused by friction or pressure to the area ( shoes again) Normally reducing the friction gets rid of the callus. Also, use foot cream to reduce the roughness of the skin.
- Claw toes, mallet toes & hammertoes: These happen because of an imbalance in the muscles or tendons in the toes, Again tight shoes are a primary cause. Wearing a wider fitting shoe and pads between the toes can help with this.
- Corns: Can be painful, again usually caused by friction. Treat immediately with treatment from Pharmacy.
- heel pain: Rarely a symptom of a more serious issue, Possibility Plantar fasciitis) but can cause discomfort and interfere with exercise and walking.
- Heel spurs: A bony growth that is on the front of your heel bone pointing towards the foot arch. This condition occurs in about 50% of people who suffer plantar fasciitis. But it is rarely painful, It was thought originally that these spurs were the cause of plantar fasciitis, and surgery was sometimes used but now this is very rare. Normally foot supports and physio are used in the treatment of heel spurs.
- Ingrowing toenail: Can be painful and uncomfortable, if over the counter remedies don’t work see your doctor.
- Metatarsalgia: A condition where the ball of the foot becomes inflamed and painful. Sports that involve running and jumping can cause this as well as tight-fitting shoes. Generally not serious and can be treated with rest and ice. and shoes that fit correctly.
- Mortons neuroma & Mortons toe: A painful condition that affects you normally between your 3rd & 4th toes. It can feel a sharp or burning pain in the ball of your foot and possibly pain or numbness in the toes. This condition has been linked to high heeled shoes. Changing footwear can alleviate the pain although sometimes injections may be needed depending on the severity.
- Overlapping toes: See claw and hammertoes.
- Overpronation: Your foot is hitting the ground on the outer edge of the heel and rolling inwards to the arch flattening your feet. This can lead also to some of the above conditions. Correct footwear or inserts can help.
- Posterior- tibial -tendonitis: Sometimes referred to as fallen arches. It causes flat-footedness because the tendon cannot support the arch of the foot. Normally treated without surgery.
- Sesamoiditis: Sesamoids are bones connected to muscles by tendons as opposed to joints. There are 2 located near to your big toe. The title refers to the inflammation of the tendons from overworking and straining. Normally treated with rest and anti-inflammatory treatment.
If your condition does not alleviate with exercise or a change of footwear please seek advice from a health professional.