Are You Walking on Broken Glass? – Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms and Treatment

You step out of bed and suddenly you feel as though shards of glass are pushing their way through the soles of your feet. You can hardly bear to put your feet on the ground; walking is torture, running absolutely impossible.

The chances are you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis and you’re not alone. Around one in ten people will suffer from some kind of heel pain during their lifetimes and for many of those sufferers, plantar fasciitis, or tenderness in the layer of tissue along the underside of your foot, is the cause.

What triggers it?
Two of the most common causes of the condition are running shores which provide too little support and poor bio-mechanics, where you may be using your muscles inefficiently, resulting in stress points elsewhere in the body, in this case, the soft tissue of the feet. Whatever the cause, the result can be really painful and debilitating. But there’s help at hand!

What can you do about it?
Your GP may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or painkillers which will help in the short term, and he may refer you to a physiotherapist.

The simple fact is that if you want to continue to walk or run, you need to find a way of treating plantar fasciitis to avoid more problems down the line: bone bruising or stress fractures are among the worst outcomes if the condition is left untreated.

For immediate relief
Use an ice pack for around 20 minutes and, if the discomfort continues, repeat every two hours.

Check your shoes
If they’re old or have little support, invest in a decent pair with good arch support. If you’re running regularly, don’t hang on to your trainers until they’re in holes; trainers which offer decent support need not be expensive. Buy from a specialist sports shop rather than a sport fashion store, and make sure your feet are properly supported.

Arrange for a gait analysis in a specialist running shop, or consult a physiotherapist, who will help you to develop core strength, provide soft tissue release techniques, correction exercises and, in extreme cases, an off-loading boot.

Sandy Tubby is a physiotherapist specialising in sports and exercise medicine.

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