On a beautiful sunny day, you decide to go on your favorite hike. This hike is one you’ve been enjoying for years. Half an hour into the hike, you start to feel pain and discomfort at the arch of your foot and in your heel. You decide to take a break, sit on a bench, and then continue the hike.

The following day you wake up, and the first step you take out of bed is extremely painful. “Ouch” how did this happen? I was just walking.

The human foot is a very complex structure, serving many diverse functions. This flexible structure is made up of bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and other soft tissue that allows us to perform activities like walking, running, and jumping. At the sole of the foot exists a thick, dense band of tissue called the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a tough, fibrous band of tissue connecting the calcareous (heel bone) to the base of the toes and runs along the sole of the foot.

The function of the facia is to support the arch of the foot and plays an important role in normal foot mechanics during walking. Tension or stress in the plantar fascia increases when you push off on the ball of your foot and toes, a day-to-day motion during normal walking or running. With overuse, the fascia starts to lose some of its elasticity or resilience and can become irritated and inflamed.

This condition is best known as plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the fascia) in your foot. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common conditions causing heel pain. The fascia is important in providing support for the arch and shock absorption during the gait cycle. Risk factors that contribute to this condition are having low (Pes Planus) or high (Pes Cavus) arches, loss of ankle dorsiflexion, improper shoe fit, high BMI (body mass index), diabetes mellitus, leg length discrepancy, and tight leg muscles. This condition is clinically diagnosed by your primary health care practitioner (Chiropractor/Physician) based on history and physical examination. Your doctor may also decide to use imaging studies like radiographs, diagnostic ultrasound, and MRI. The following are the most common clinical symptoms/presentation for this condition: heel pain with first steps in the morning or after long periods of non-weight bearing, tenderness in the sole of the foot, preference to toe walk and limp, increased pain with walking up the stairs.

Conservative treatment is the first treatment choice. The most commonly used treatments for this condition include ice, rest, stretching, orthotics, splints, taping and shockwave therapy. More advanced and invasive techniques may include botulinum toxin, platelet-rich plasma, prolotherapy, or steroid injections. Another important tool is the education of the patient about the condition.

Symptoms can take months to improve, and people suffering from this condition play an important role in the healing process. At home, stretching and ice can be as an important tool for symptom management. Useful stretches include wall calf stretches, flexing your toes towards your nose, toe scrunch and splay, heel and toe raises, toe stretch, and rolling on a golf or tennis ball. Another technique that may be helpful in the inflammatory process is rolling your foot on a frozen bottle of water. Simply place a water bottle in the freezer, place it on the ground and roll the sole of your foot on it. Here at The Family Grande Chiropractic Clinic, our doctors have successfully treated this condition for years and have the tools to keep your body at its optimal function.