Plantar fasciitis is a common condition, it is also known as policemen’s heel as policemen who were on their feet all day often had this problem. The plantar fascia is a strong band of tissue stretching between the heel to the middle of the foot. It supports the arch of your foot and also acts as a shock-absorber in your foot. Damage to this band of tissue causes inflammation to occur – resulting in pain. This is normally worse first thing in the morning and will return after periods of inactivity. It can be difficult to treat if not looked after and cared for correctly. Sometimes there seems to be no obvious cause for the condition, and people who lead a sedentary lifestyle are also often affected. For most people the pain will get better given a period of rest and no other treatment is required. For others treatment can be helpful, although in some cases the condition will persist and if present for longer than 12 months then surgery is an option.
What can you do ?
The current advice from the specialist podiatry NHS teams is that there are a number of treatments that can help relieve heel pain and speed up your recovery.
- resting your heel – try to avoid walking long distances and standing for long periods
- regular stretching – stretching your calf muscles and plantar fascia. (See below)
- pain relief – using an icepack on the affected heel and taking painkillers, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- wearing good-fitting shoes – that support and cushion your foot; running shoes are particularly useful
- using supportive devices – such as orthoses (rigid supports you put inside your shoe) or strapping
Preventing heel painBeing overweight can place excess pressure and strain on your feet, particularly on your heels. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight by combining regular excercise with a healthy balanced diet can be beneficial for your feet. Wearing appropriate footwear is also important. Ideally, you should wear shoes with a low to moderate heel that supports and cushions your arches and heels. Avoid wearing shoes with no heels. Stretches Tightness at the bottom of the calf is one of the aggravating factors and stretching this is one of the most effective ways to help. Perform these stretches as often as possible. Several times each day. For example. While you are waiting for the kettle to boil. Each time you go upstairs etc. 1. Place your hands on the wall or worktop to ensure that your body is stable and you will not fall. Move the affected foot back and place heel to the floor, this should be a gentle stretch in the calf. 2. Use the bottom stair (if you are stable) or a thick book to raise the front of your foot and then raise and lower your body. Routine footcare, Should you have any problems with your feet Sarah Littlewood (footcare professional) or Louise Howell (podiatrist) are available for appointment and advice.