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Plantar Fasciopathy

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Plantar Fasciopathy and my own personal experience

~ Nathan Andijanto, Physiotherapist

Plantar fasciopathy affects 10% of the population. If you have ever been part of that unfortunate 10% of people, you may know how draining and frustrating the experience can be. You will also appreciate the impacts it can have on your daily function. Everyday activities, sports, fitness training and walking are just some of the things that can become limited by stubborn heel pain. 

 

Common symptoms associated with plantar fasciopathy include stabbing pain on the bottom of your foot, typically near the heel. This pain is normally worst when taking your first few steps after waking, and can also be present after long periods of standing or when getting up from the chair. It is also common for the pain to be manageable during exercise, but to worsen afterwards. The onset of pain is usually preceded by a quick change to the load placed on the plantar fascia. This can occur with spikes in training or exercise load and may also occur after gaining weight (increased BMI). 

 

My own experience of plantar fasciopathy was related to a combination of these two components. My exercise load increased rapidly when the soccer season began and the off-season was a particularly lazy one which led to some weight gain. Although these wouldn’t have been the only factors, they were certainly the largest ones that I was able to identify. The heel pain gradually got worse and worse over the period of about 2-3 months. It started with some mild discomfort during my first few steps in the morning and progressed to a stabbing pain in my heel any time I rose from a chair. 

 

Being a physio, I knew what was considered the best possible management by the research. The research literature currently supports a multi-faceted approach which includes some symptoms management (massage, cryotherapy etc.), ankle mobility exercises (eg stretching), activity/load modification, reducing BMI and strengthening the plantar fascia. This was easier said than done; however, I persisted with the exercises that I would prescribe to patients for up to ~6 months. It made the symptoms far more manageable, but did not eliminate one of the biggest contributing factors in my scenario, which was the high amount of load. I found it difficult to reduce load during soccer as it actually felt quite good whilst training or playing. 

 

In my case, I was able to modify my routine enough to manage the symptoms whilst continuing to play soccer. It wasn’t until I had a significant change in load (when the soccer season ended) and also lost some weight (reducing my BMI) that I was able to achieve complete symptom management. 

 

To summarise, heel pain due to plantar fasciopathy has a number of contributing factors. In order to have a significant improvement to the pain, there are many factors that need to be considered and addressed. Addressing all of these factors will give you the best chance of complete resolution of your heel pain. We would love to help you identify the contributors and set up a structured plan of action to help you get on top of your heel pain. 

 


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