Wake up in morning with knife like pain in the arch or heel of your foot? It could be plantar fasciitis. It’s the bane of the foot’s existence and can be very frustrating and annoying. In this article I’ll be discussing all you’ll need to know about why and how plantar fasciitis comes to be and how Osteopathy can help you.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

First, let’s talk anatomy. It’s common knowledge that the musculoskeletal system is made up of muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons; but there is a very important and often overlooked structure called fascia. Fascia is the sinew that holds everything together, we have layers upon layers of fascia that surround our muscles, tendons, joints and even our organs.

The plantar fascia is the extension of the achilles tendon that runs over your heel, along the bottom of your foot to the tips of your toes. It holds your foot together, encasing your arch, blood supply, nerves, tendons, muscles and small bones of the ankle. If the Plantar Fascia becomes inflamed and irritated it then presents as sharp unremitting pain in the arch or heel. It’s often worse in the mornings or after rest and is referred as plantar fasciitis.  

What causes Plantar Fasciitis?

This is the million dollar question. There’s little proof of an exact cause but there are studies that show plantar fasciitis being a manifestation of another biomechanical problems in the foot or leg. Biomechanical problems can be split into two categories;

Compressive forces: This is where the arch structures are very weak and collapsed similar to someone who has a ‘flat foot’; there go putting extra pressure on the plantar fascia to hold the foot together. This causes the plantar fascia to overstretch, inflaming its attachments to the heel; and in severe cases causing spurs on the heel bone. People who are obese and/or have flat feet are predisposed to this kind of injury.

Traction forces: This is where the plantar fascia is being overused and overstretched in someone who runs or walks on their toes. The repetitive physical stretch of the plantar fascia during the push off phase of running and the over activation of the calf muscles can pull the plantar fascia tight over the heel; there go irritating it. Athletes are more prone to this kind of injury.

How can an Osteopath treat this?

Osteopathic manual therapy can provide immense relief for people who suffer from this injury. Firstly an Osteopath will diagnose the cause of your plantar fasciitis and treat the problematic structures with safe, gentle manual therapy techniques. The most important factor is to change what is causing your plantar fasciitis and proceeding to strengthen the arch supporting muscles in the leg and foot. Our friendly and helpful Osteopaths here at Blackburn Osteopathy will help you with your plantar fasciitis. Book in today!

Dr Shane Heslop