Why does my heel hurt?!

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Plantar fasciitis presents itself with a gradual onset of pain in the heel. It affects approximately 10% of the US population in both athletic and non-athletic populations. It is most common in runners, non-athletic people with a high body mass index and also in occupations with weight bearing activity with poor shock absorption. This pain is usually at its worst with the first few steps in the morning, although it can also be quite painful after periods of inactivity.

The plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue than runs from the heel-bone (calcaneus) to the toes. The large toe in particular can play an important role in plantar fasciitis, as limited extension of the big toe is a risk factor for this injury.

Treatment for plantar fasciitis can include stretching of the calf, plantar fascia, taping of the plantar fascia, and manual therapy of the ankle joint. Check out this video that we made of a simple tape job that can really help with pain caused by plantar fasciitis:

It’s important to see a physiotherapist if you believe that plantar fasciitis is affecting your quality of life; one study by DiGiovanni et al. (2003) found that heel pain was either gone or significantly improved in 52% of individuals who underwent a specific exercise program which targeted the plantar fascia, compared to a 22% improvement rate in patients whose exercise program wasn’t targeted at this structure.

In addition, it was found that patients who received manual therapy needed fewer visits in order to resolve their plantar fasciitis. This means that an exercise program in combination with manual therapy from a trained physiotherapist is the best way to tackle this issue!

For those interested in running and cycling outdoors, here's a map of all the trails in St. Albert! https://stalbert.ca/uploads/legacy/documents/rec/RunningTrails2011.pdf

DiGiovanni BF, Nawoczenski DA, Lintal ME, et al. (2003). Tissue-specific plantar fascia stretching exercise enhances outcomes in patients with chronic heel pain: a prospective, randomized study. J Bone Joint Surg Am, 85, 1270-7.

Plantar fasciitis: Will physical therapy help my foot pain? Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (2017) 47, 2, 56–56. DOI: 10.2519/jospt.2017.0501

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