If you have plantar fasciitis, that first morning step is a bad wake up call. Needle-like pain shoots from the heel and it feels like the bottom of the heel is stretching and tearing, and that’s exactly what’s happening.
Plantar fascia are bands of tissue that run from the heel, along the bottom of the foot to the toes. With increased stress, the tissue becomes inflamed and there are micro tears in the bands. While you sleep, the fascia shortens and stiffens. The first step stretches it and loosens (and tears) the stiff tissue.
It’s a common runner’s injury, but it’s also something that affects non-runners. It’s also very frustrating because it requires temporarily refraining from running and other activities that can worsen or aggravate the area.
“It can get worse if you don’t address it, but it will likely just linger if you delay seeking treatment,” says Magnolia therapist Lauren Manna, who is a runner herself.
Manna explains there are numerous causes for plantar fasciitis including,
- Change in footwear
- Increased activity level,
- or abnormal hip, knee or ankle mechanics.
It’s tempting to get a quick fix with a cortisone shot, which may or may not bring relief.
“Cortisone injections can seem like a magic bullet, but they usually do not address the cause,” says Manna. “Decreased strength, flexibility, joint restrictions and muscular trigger points (all the things that may contribute to PF) will still be there after your injection.”
Manna says that physical therapy can dramatically shorten the injury’s duration and she has seen good results with a combination hands-on manual therapy to address body mechanics, stretching and orthotics. Additionally, dry needling has been shown to be very effective.
Don’t ignore it, or chalk it up to just a symptom of aging, Manna stresses.
“Too often, people will accept injuries or conditions as just a sign of getting older and they won’t get treatment,” Manna says. “That’s a shame because in many cases, including PF, these injuries are completely treatable. Plus, plenty of young people get PF.”