Q&A: How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis
What are some ways to manage or actively treat plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis—irritation of the plantar fascia—can be a debilitating foot condition for a runner. It commonly presents as pain located on the inside of the heel that often radiates to the arch of the foot. The pain can be exquisite with the first steps after getting up in the morning, and tends to increase with higher-impact activities such as running.
The reasons that plantar fasciitis can develop include (but aren’t limited to) an inappropriate/abrupt increase in running volume, poor movement patterns during running, ill-fitting shoes, and obesity. Plantar fasciitis is also associated with decreased calf and ankle flexibility.
It would be beneficial to seek an evaluation from a physical therapist soon after the onset of pain, in order to receive a comprehensive evaluation and treatment strategy. Your PT will provide you with an accurate diagnosis and can develop a plan to address your strength and flexibility deficits, as well as your training schedule, while minimizing your symptoms. Together, you will develop a training schedule to meet your running goals.
There is often more than one factor affecting your foot that may cause pain. Most treatments address many factors, including overall lower extremity movement patterns, use of orthotics, and weight loss, as well as addressing deficits in soft tissue flexibility.
While plantar fasciitis does tend to do well with conservative management, runners need to be very aware of their choice of shoes and how they are increasing mileage once their foot pain has decreased. If this pain does persist despite high-quality conservative care, it may be time to consult a physician for further management.
About the Author
Dan Gardner PT, DPT, CSCS is a physical therapist with HSS Rehabilitation. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and is currently participating in the HSS Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency program.