Plantar Fasciitis is apparently one of the most common causes of heel pain. It is most common in middle-aged people. Plantar Fasciitis is one of those conditions that you are unlikely to have heard of. However, if you are sufferer, you will realise immediately that you are most certainly not alone. Plantar Fasciitis also occurs in younger people who spend a lot of time on their feet.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The Plantar Fascia is the flat ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of your foot and if you strain your Plantar Fascia it becomes weak, swollen, and irritated. You will start to experience pain in the heel or the bottom of your foot when you stand or walk.
This is more likely to happen if:
· Your feet roll inward too much when you walk
· You spend a lot of time barefoot
· You have high arches or flat feet.
· You walk, stand, or run for long periods of time, especially on hard surfaces (worse when barefoot).
· You are overweight
Plantar Fasciitis can occur in one or both feet and can be incredibly painful.
What are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
I have raised the issue of this condition because I live with a Plantar Fasciltis sufferer. My husband has had the condition for several years in both feet.
In his own words ~
“I’ve had the pleasure of Plantar Fasciitis (also known as ”Policeman’s heel”) for at least two years or so. The pain can be constant and makes walking uncomfortable. It is worse in the morning or when you haven’t moved for a while but then settles down into a dull throb, with occasional piercing pain that comes out of the blue. The pain is almost entirely at the base of the back of the heel. I guess I just got used to it and hoped it would get better by itself. Eventually, I decided enough was enough was enough and went to the GP earlier this year. There followed a series of physiotherapy appointments, which basically involved being given stretching exercises to do at home and the suggestion of wearing cushioned gel heels in my shoes. These were limited in success and led to no real improvement. It can also be treated with a cortisone injection into the heel. I’ve heard mixed reports about the success of this and having seen the size of the needle, I decided to give this one a swerve.
Plantar Fasciitis is supposedly a “self-limiting” condition, meaning that it will just get better on its own. But there is no time frame to this so it could go on for years.
Whilst abroad I had a few days with no pain. I linked this to walking on very hot sand and the hot swimming pool tiles that usually become unbearable to walk on in the midday sun. It led me to think that the heat was helping. I also tried putting my feet on the edge of the hot metal edged sunbeds once they had a chance to warm up to try and prove this theory. With the heat element in mind I came across a home remedy that involves putting your feet in a bowl of hot water (as hot as you can stand) and leaving them in while the water cools down. I did this for several weeks and it did seem to ease it initially but then it returned as before.
The strangest thing is the random element. For no particular reason, some days are better or worse than others. I haven’t been able to link this to anything, it just happens!”
At this stage it was looking as though the poor bloke was resigned to spending his evenings in ‘hot water’ . The cynical, ‘I know best side’ was starting to clutch at straws and it wasn’t working.
So this is where it gets interesting. I’d recently listened to a women’s health talk from a Myofascial Release practitioner, Nikki Robinson, the owner of Holisticare.
Nikki and I talked more about Myofascial Release and in the spirit of random conversation, Mark’s foot problem came up and we talked at length about how a trial of Myofascial Release Therapy (MFR) may benefit him. Nikki had treated many patients with the Plantar Fasciitis condition at her Holisticare Treatment Centre in Hatfield Broad Oak.
I’m guessing that Myofascial Release (MFR) is a therapy that you almost certainly won’t have heard of. Me neither before meeting Nikki, so I have popped a little extract from Nikki below by way of explanation.
Holisticare specialise in Myofascial Release, which is a treatment developed by American Physiotherapist, John Barnes.
The myofascia is a continuous network of connective tissue that holds every cell in your body in its place. This 3D network gives us strength, flexibility and stability meaning that no part of the body exists in isolation. The myofascia solidifies and shortens in response to any kind of trauma, repetition of movement or ongoing poor posture. It will slowly tighten, spreading tension throughout the whole body.
As the myofascia tightens, it puts increasing pressure on nerve endings, which then cause pain and other symptoms such as numbness and tingling. It can upset our autonomic nervous system which regulates the function of our internal organs and affects things such as our heart rate, blood pressure and digestion.
The treatment involves stretching and releasing the tight connective tissue with a slow gentle hands-on technique.
Happy to give the treatment a try, Mark went along to the Holisticare Treatment Centre for an initial consultation with Nikki with a view to trying out the Myofascial Release Therapy treatment.
Rather than make this post unnecessarily long, I have written a separate post about Mark’s experience of Myofascial Release Therapy here.