• Out of the Box Physio

If you (or someone you know) is suffering from foot pain then you need to read this!

This article might just be the first step in fixing you pain

When it comes to foot issues, arch and heel pain is definitely one of the most common complaints that we get asked to look at as physiotherapists. It is such a common problem that it is believed to affect around 15% of the population and these people report symptoms on average for 6 months.

The good news is that if dealt with promptly, 90% of cases can be successfully treated with conservative measures such as physiotherapy.

The most common source of arch and heel pain is a structure known as the plantar fascia (the under side of the foot). As the foot is made up of lots of small bones and ligaments, the plantar fascia provides stability and structure to the foot, particularly when it is loaded such as walking. Speaking of loading, the poor old plantar fascia does cop a bit of hiding with figures such as 110% bodyweight when walking and up to 250% bodyweight when running. With forces like that, It is no wonder that this area can be a site of pain and injury.

If not managed properly, foot pain such as plantar fasciitis will just get worse and episodes of pain will last longer and in some cases more expensive and painful invasive options will need to be considered.

Not only is correct diagnosis key to the management of foot pain, but so too is causation. Too often I see practitioners jump straight to a diagnosis and then straight to a solution (such as orthotics) without considering all of the things along the way that have led to the problem in the first place. Research has in fact shown that the use of orthotics in isolation (including custom ones) is not effective in the management of plantar fasciitis pain in the long term. There is often more than one issue to address to fix the foot pain and not surprisingly they all need to be addressed in order to get long term relief. Pain relief such as taping and orthotics needs to be combined with other exercise based strategies such as stretching and strengthening.

To help you get started, here are a couple of quick things you can do at home to help manage your foot pain. Your physiotherapist will be able to provide you feel specific exercises to target the affected muscle groups.

  1. Stretch - Stretch the plantar surface of the foot as shown. - Do 10 x 10 second holds

2. Self-massage - Use a trigger ball as shown. 3 - 5 mins should be sufficient

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