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Plantar Fasciitis Physical Therapy: What To Know

Introduction


Plantar Fasciitis is a common foot condition that affects millions of people, causing pain and discomfort in the heel area. If you're one of those individuals seeking relief, you may be wondering how physical therapy may work as an effective treatment option. In this article, we will explore the benefits of physical therapy for heel pain management.



What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Before delving into the details of physical therapy, it's crucial to understand what Plantar Fasciitis is. Although “Plantar Fasciitis” is the most common term used to describe this condition, medical professionals these days typically refer to it as “plantar fasciopathy” or “plantar heel pain”. This is essentially the pain associated with the thick band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that connects the heel bone to the toes. It often results in stabbing pain in the heel and arch of the foot, particularly when taking the first steps in the morning or after prolonged periods of rest. Unfortunately pain in this area can be very stubborn and take a long time to settle.


Plantar Fasciitis Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a non-invasive Plantar Fasciitis Treatment, which focuses on restoring the balance between stress and capacity in the tissue. Elements of physical therapy include:


  1. Education regarding load management 

  2. Stretching and strengthening exercises to build capacity in the tissue

  3. Taping techniques and orthotics prescription to help offload the sensitised tissue

  4. Addressing biomechanics (areas of tightness/weakness in the body or gait/technique issues that might be contributing to overload in the foot) 

  5. Manual therapy/massage to help relieve pain.



Customized Exercise Programs

One of the primary advantages of physical therapy for Plantar Fasciitis is the creation of customized exercise programs. Physical therapists design routines tailored to the patient's specific needs and abilities. 


Gait Analysis

Gait analysis is a crucial component of Plantar Fasciitis Physical Therapy. Understanding the patient's walking or running mechanics helps therapists identify issues contributing to the condition. They can then provide guidance on modifying the gait to reduce stress on the plantar fascia.


Massage and Manual Therapy

Physical therapists often use massage and manual therapy techniques to decrease pain and allow earlier exercise loading 


Footwear Recommendations

Proper footwear is essential for managing Plantar Fasciitis. Physical therapists can offer recommendations for shoes with proper arch support and cushioning to alleviate pressure on the plantar fascia.


Taping Techniques

Taping techniques are commonly used in physical therapy to support the foot's arch and reduce strain on the plantar fascia. This can be a valuable tool in managing the condition.


Conclusion

Although Plantar Fasciitis can be a difficult condition to treat, physical therapy is a promising option, with few side effects. If you are interested in learning more about this condition, then check out this podcast episode:


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