What is Plantar Fasciitis?
One of the common foot problems many of us experience is Plantar Fasciitis.
This is a condition which causes pain in the heel and arch of the foot, due to inflammation of the plantar fascia – the thick tissue at the bottom of your foot that connects the heel and the toes.
The treatment of this condition is quite simple and can usually be achieved at home, but if it’s left untreated it could lead to more chronic cases.
What causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Any activity that puts excess pressure on the plantar fascia for an extended period of time will result in the ligament tearing and becoming inflamed, which causes the sharp or dull heel pain known as Plantar Fasciitis. There are certain factors which can increase the risk of developing plantar fasciitis:
- Overtraining: This condition is common amongst athletes as sudden or excessive intervals of exercise can put stress on the heel and surrounding area.
- Hard surfaces: Running or walking on concrete roads or the treadmill for a long time.
- Prolonged standing: People with occupations that involve a lot of walking or standing are prone to developing plantar fasciitis.
- Unsuitable footwear: Wearing shoes that do not support the arch of the foot whilst walking or exercising will damage the ligaments over time. Switching between heels and flat shoes regularly can also put stress on the foot tissue as the arch is forced to adapt to two different positions. Podiatry services often involve fitting the foot for orthopedic insteps for shoes to distribute the foot pressure more evenly.
- Weight gain: Putting extra weight and pressure on the plantar fasciitis daily will result in damage to the area – overweight people are more likely to develop foot problems.
- Foot deformities: Having flat feet or a high arch can result in increased strains on ligaments and tendons within the feet, resulting in heel pain when walking.
How do I know if I have Plantar Fasciitis?
The main symptom of Plantar fasciitis is experiencing intense pain on the bottom of your foot, around the heel and arch. This can cause discomfort and worsen over time if left untreated. Other common indicators that you may have plantar fasciitis include:
- Sharp stabbing heel pain after running or intense exercise
- Foot cramping or heel pain in the morning when you take your first steps as a result of the ligament partially healing in the position it was in overnight.
- Pain and swelling located around the heel or in the middle arch of your foot
- Foot cramping at night or in the morning
What is the best treatment for Plantar Fasciitis?
Although there is not one stand alone cure for plantar fasciitis, there are a combination of simple treatments which will provide pain relief and enable the area to heal, speeding up the recovery process.
Taping and strapping helps to stabilize the plantar fascia, reducing the amount of movement the ligament does and giving it time to heal. The tape can be applied in the morning to reduce the intensity of the pain after resting – or as a prevention method prior to exercise if this is something you often struggle with.
Zinc Z.O. tape: This robust tape is most commonly used for the treatment of plantar fasciitis for its rigid material which works well to restrict movement of the fascia, preventing further damage to the ligament as it heals. Sterotape-Z.O. Zinc Oxide Tape is an essential for any podiatry clinic and an effective long-term treatment for heel pain.
Kinesiology tape: Unlike other athletic tapes, this tape works to increase blood flow where applied and reduce swelling. Used in sports therapy, this treatment helps to reduce pain by supporting the muscles in the foot. Using kinesiology tape for plantar fasciitis is one way to tape the area to alleviate the pressure and pain on the overstretched ligament.
How to tape the foot to treat Plantar Fasciitis
For taping treatment to be effective at reducing pain - it must be applied in the correct way to properly target the injured area and provide optimal support. See below for the correct technique for using tape for plantar fasciitis:
- Rest the leg on a table or flat surface, ensuring the foot is clean and dry
- Apply tape horizontally around the metatarsal area (ball of the foot)
- Wrap a piece of tape around the heel, connecting each end to the ball of the foot
- Wrap another piece around the back of the heel and place the ends of the strip across the sole of the foot – forming an X shape in the center of the arch
- Repeat this 3 times to create a rigid support.
- Cover the rest of the foot in horizontal strips of tape to cover all of the skin apart from the toes
Benefits of Sterotape Zinc Z.O. tape
- Ultra strong tape provides rigid support, even under stress
- Excellent adhesion – will stay on for days to provide lasting support & long-term treatment
- Ideal for everyday use as well as for preventing sporting injuries
- Guaranteed directional support and immobilisation
- Tears easily without the need for scissors
Other home remedies for Plantar Fasciitis
This is the most important thing you can do to begin the recovery process. Although the pain may seem to reduce or temporarily go away when exercising – this will generally worsen the condition. Running with plantar fasciitis will result in inflammation and is detrimental to the natural healing process.
A quick heel pain treatment which will help to reduce swelling and pain in the foot is applying an ice pack to the area for 15 minutes a few times a day. Use an ice bag or ice pack to avoid direct contact to the skin.
Gently stretching the area can prevent further damage to your foot before returning to regular walking/ exercising. Try gentle stretching exercises at home to reduce tightness and encourage blood flow to the area.
You can visit a podiatrist for more advice on foot problems. As medical professionals, they can diagnose and treat common foot disorders and diseases in the lower body. They may recommend insoles or footwear solutions as a long-term Plantar Fasciitis treatment.
If you are still experiencing pain after home treatments, seek medical help from a GP or foot specialist.
See our blog post ‘Foot problems? Home treatments & when to see a podiatrist’ for advice and at home treatments for other common foot problems, including sprained ankles and shin splints.
Another foot problem that people experience is bunions. If you are experiencing bunion pain or believe that you are, check out our blog post 'Bunions - What they are and how to treat them'
For more podiatry essentials, visit our page dedicated to podiatry and chiropody products, including PPE, clinic essentials, tapes & strapping and bandages & dressings
Many of our tried and tested, medical grade products are requested by the NHS, podiatrists and other specialist medical professionals for their high quality and durability. If you would like more information about our range of tapes or podiatry essentials, request a callback with one of our experts or get in touch using the form below: