Understanding is everything
Like any problem, a physical condition needs to be properly understood in order to be improved.
With the wealth of information available online it can be easy to feel confused and overwhelmed about what’s right for you. Here you’ll find not only relevant information about orthotics and biomechanics but also common misconceptions and myths that I’ll set straight. Anything here that you’d like to discuss or find out more about, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
When affected, the plantar fascia needs support, time and a bit of patience to recover. I always compare plantar fasciitis with a deep cut underneath the foot. Quite an extreme comparison but we have learnt a lot about its difficulty healing. You can reconnect both sides of the soft tissue together but without holding them together long enough it will reopen as soon as you stand up and apply your bodyweight on it.
Remember, there is a contiguity between the plantar fascia, the Achilles’ tendon and the calf muscles, articulated around the heel bone, which acts like a pulley to transfer the forces from the sole of the foot to the back of the leg.
A lack of foot support will tend to excessively stretch the plantar fascia as soon as you stand up.
An arch support is going to reduce the stress on this soft tissue and will improve this condition in 3 to 4 weeks. During this period, you should avoid being barefoot, from the moment you get up to the moment you go to bed (attack treatment).
What can help?
The moulded arch must not dig into the sole of the foot and through the arch, but simply hold with flexible material such as thin thermo-mouldable resin to allow a slight stretch. Barefoot you will overstretch the plantar fascia and the problem will persist. Dedicate 3 to 4 weeks to wearing the orthotics all the time without increasing your level of activity. Then once pain-free, simply wear your orthotics in all your shoes.
DO some stretching exercises with shoes on, Calves stretches do not only stretch the calves but the Achilles tendon and the plantar fascia. For this reason, it’s essential to keep the shoes on and focus on this chain of muscles/tendon/fascia.
DON’T do any strengthening exercise on your calves if you have any pain in your calves, Achilles tendon or plantar fascia. Asking a muscle that works too much to work more is either going to slow down the recovery or make the problem worse.
A non-invasive and quite recent technique – shockwave therapy compliments orthotics and footwear advice to reduce the pain in plantar fasciitis and encourage the healing process by stimulating new inflammation in the tissue.