What is plantar fasciitis and how to prevent & treat it?

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a common foot disorder, characterized by the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the toes. The most common symptom is pain and discomfort in the heel. The tenderness point is often on the sole of the foot near the heel. Sometimes the tenderness is severe and persists. The pain is obvious when you wake up in the morning and worsens when walking excessively. In severe cases, the pain may even occur when standing and resting.

 Acute or chronic injury to the plantar fascia due to the long-term effect of overload pressure is the main cause of pain. The most common reason is long-term walking, including mountain climbing, hiking, shopping, and other activities. Walking for several days in a row can easily cause chronic damage to the soles of the feet, leading to plantar fasciitis. In addition, there are structural factors that cause abnormal tension on the plantar fascia, such as flat feet, high arched feet, short heel tendons, etc. In the long run, improper posture during walking may cause damage to the waist, hips, knees, ankles, etc. Pain

What will cause or aggravate Plantar Fasciitis?

  • Degradation factors

As age increases, foot muscles, ligaments and tendons gradually degenerate, which increases the load on the plantar fascia. Therefore, plantar fasciitis often occurs after the age of 40.

  • Excessive weight bearing on the foot

When the feet bear too much weight, the risk of plantar fasciitis increases. Therefore, people such as movers who need to hold heavy objects for a long time have a higher chance of suffering from plantar fasciitis.

In addition, obese or overweight people will bear too much weight on their feet, and obesity is often accompanied by insufficient exercise. When the foot muscles are insufficient, it will increase the burden on the plantar fascia, resulting in plantar fasciitis.

  • Excessive exercise

Excessive exercise can overload the muscles, causing excessive tension on the plantar fascia, and even causing micro tears, which can also cause plantar fasciitis.

  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes

Shoes can provide support for the feet. However, if you wear ill-fitting or inappropriate shoes for a long time (such as high heels with a height of more than five centimeters), it will increase the burden on the feet, and plantar fasciitis may occur over time.


 What are the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?

Heel pain is a typical symptom of plantar fasciitis. Clinically, pain conditions can be subdivided into the following categories:

  • Pain after pressing on the heel
  • When you get up in the morning and put your feet on the ground, there will be pain in your heels. The pain can be relieved after walking.
  • Heel pain or sole pain occurs after standing or walking for a long time
  • When the big toe of the foot is pulled back, pain occurs in the heel


How to Diagnose Plantar Fasciitis

When pain occurs on the sole of the foot, we can use palpation to confirm whether the pain point is on the heel or the inner edge of the heel.

Further examination methods include ultrasound and X-ray examination. Ultrasound can show the condition of the plantar fascia. If there are signs of plantar fasciitis, the plantar fascia will be thickened; X-ray can observe the bone structure of the foot and confirm the condition. Whether the pain is coming from bone or joint factors to diagnose plantar fasciitis.

plantar fasciitis diagnose


How can we prevent Plantar Fasciitis?

The key to preventing plantar fasciitis is to reduce the burden on the foot and soothe the plantar fascia:

  • Choose appropriate shoes and insoles, which must completely cover the foot
  • People with various postural problems or congenital structural abnormalities can wear corrective insoles or correct various postural problems.
  • Reduce long-term standing or walking activities, such as marathons and mountain climbing.
  • Reduce high impact sports on the feet, such as volleyball and basketball
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects
  • Warm up properly before exercise
  • Avoid excessive exercise and apply ice to your heels after exercise.
  • Control weight
  • Strengthen foot muscles


How to Relieve Plantar Fasciitis with Foot Massage

Foot massage can be a highly beneficial tool in the management of plantar fasciitis. It helps in several ways:

  • Relieving Tension: Massage helps relax the plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue affected by this condition.
  • Improving Circulation: Enhanced blood flow facilitates healing by bringing nutrients and oxygen to the affected area.
  • Reducing Pain: The soothing effect of massage can decrease the perception of pain.
  • Promoting Flexibility: Regular massage can improve the flexibility of the foot, reducing the risk of further injury.

 foot massage relief plantar fasciitis

Techniques for Effective Foot Massage

  • Thumb Pressing:
Start at the heel and apply gentle pressure with your thumb.
Slowly move towards the ball of the foot, pressing along the length of the plantar fascia.
Repeat this motion for 2-3 minutes.
  • Knuckle Kneading:
Form a fist and use your knuckles to knead the bottom of your foot.
This technique is particularly effective in loosening tight tissues.
Continue for 2-3 minutes.
  • Arch Rubbing:
With your fingers, gently rub the arch of your foot in a circular motion.
Focus on areas that feel particularly tight or sore.
Perform this for about 1-2 minutes.
  • Toe Manipulation:
Gently pull and twist each toe.
This helps relieve tension in the smaller muscles of the foot.
Spend a few seconds on each toe.
  • Stretching the Plantar Fascia:

Place a rolled towel or a foam roller under the arch of your foot.
Gently press down to stretch the plantar fascia.
Hold for 30 seconds, then relax.

In daily life, if it is not convenient to go for foot massage regularly, you can choose to use some foot massage machine or tools to perform foot massage at home to relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of plantar fasciitis. 

tisscare foot massage   foot massage techniques

Other Common Treatments For Plantar Fasciitis

  • Stretching and Physical Therapy

Stretching is one of the best ways to treat plantar fasciitis. Stretching should focus on the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon. A physical therapist can show you stretches that you can repeat at home several times a day. In addition to stretching, these exercises strengthen the calf muscles and help stabilize the ankle.

  • Ice and Medication

Applying ice to sore areas on the bottom of your feet several times a day may help relieve pain and inflammation. Your doctor may also recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

  • Rest, Activity Modifications and Orthotics

It helps reduce weight and pressure on the foot (at least partially) while the plantar fascia heals. Your doctor may recommend a combination of:

  • Change to a More Shock-absorbent Sports Surface

Switch to shoes with arch support or try using a heel cup or other orthotic to cushion your heel. Place athletic tape on your feet to support muscles and ligaments. Wear a night splint to continue stretching your foot while sleeping. Reduce the distance and duration of your walks or runs. Switch from jumping or running to swimming or biking

  • Shockwave Therapy

The therapy is based on delivering low- or high-energy shock waves to specific areas. The shock waves create micro-trauma, which triggers the body's healing response. This process is thought to help promote healing of the plantar fascia.

  • Steroid Injections

In most cases, plantar fasciitis will improve after a few months of stretching. If symptoms persist after two months of treatment, your doctor may recommend steroid injections to reduce inflammation.

  • Gastrocnemius Recession

Surgery is rarely needed for plantar fasciitis but is an option in severe cases. The surgery for plantar fasciitis is called gastrocnemius recession or gastrocnemius release. The goal is to lengthen the gastroc tendon, which is a part of the Achilles tendon. There is a known connection between the tension in the Achilles tendon and the tension in plantar fascia. This surgery may be recommended for patients who have an equinus contracture — tightness in the calf muscles and tendons that leads to the inability to hold a foot in a neutral position (a 90-degree angle to the leg).

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