Here is a sneak preview of the Multi Sport magazine question and answer from Peter Charles our Sports Podiatrist.
I have been having some chronic pain on the arches of my feet (maybe fascia muscle). I have tried massaging it with a tennis ball with no improvement, stretching - Is there anything I can do? It is hard to walk in the morning until my feet have warmed up.
This sounds consistent with plantar fasciitis (also called ‘heel spurs’), which is our most commonly treated foot injury. The strong ligaments (plantar fascia) that run under the arch and into the heel bone become strained and injured. With treatment, the pain should improve immediately, however the plantar fascia can take up to 3 to 12 months to fully strengthen. Treatments need to be tailored to each individuals needs depending on the severity of injury, activity levels and anatomy.
Self-treatments include massage under the arch and the calf muscles, stretching the calf muscles and regular icing to reduce pain and inflammation. If the pain isn’t resolving quickly, the strain through the plantar fascia will need to be reduced by selecting footwear that is stable and matched to your lower limb mechanics. Particular strapping techniques and the use of specifically designed orthotics also reduce strain through the plantar fascia.
Involving a physio and other therapists for help with massaging, needling, strengthening of the supporting muscles and other therapies are also helpful. If the pain is not reducing, your training program can be adjusted to minimise high stress activities.
There are a range of more invasive treatments that for very stubborn cases that can involve using anti-inflammatories, US guided cortisone injections, air casts and sometimes surgical release. The sooner this problem is addressed the easier, cheaper and more likely a full recovery is.
As natural strength of the plantar fascia improves, training can be increased, support reduced and a gradual return to normal activities can be made. Most cases require the identification of risk factors that contributed to the injury and a plan put in place to reduce the chance of it recurring.
If this sounds like you: