The plantar fascia is a strong fibrous band that runs underneath the skin on the sole of the foot. It originates on the undersurface of the heel bone, the calcaneus, and runs forward to insert into the heads of the long foot bones before dividing into five individual bands. These bands continue forward surrounding the flexor tendons and extending into the toes. Small nerves are embedded in and around the plantar fascia to register and mediate pain.
The plantar fascia is divided into three sections; the medial, lateral and central portions. The central portion, which is the most important structurally and functionally, is attached at its origin to the medial calcaneus. The medial portion overlies the muscles to the big toe and the lateral portion to the little toe.
During walking, the plantar fascia functions predominately during the heel rise to toe off part of the walking cycle. It helps to stabilise the arch of the foot and assists in flexing the first long foot bone, the first metatarsal, enabling it to take the majority of the body weight. It functions as a tension bridge in the foot, providing both static support and dynamic shock absorption.
Plantar fasciitis is an overuse condition of the plantar fascia at its attachment to the heel bone. Individuals with either flat feet or high arches are at risk of developing the condition. The flat foot deformity will place an increased strain on the origin of the plantar fascia as it attempts to maintain a stable arch during the propulsive phase of the walking/running cycle. In individuals with high arches, there may be excessive strain on the heel area because the foot lacks the ability to roll out in order to absorb the shock and adapt itself to the ground.
Plantar fasciitis commonly results from activities such as running and dancing. In older individuals it can be related to excessive walking in inappropriate footwear. It is a disorder that is more common in warmer months when people tend to wear no shoes or thongs/sandals that have no arch support. Plantar fasciitis is commonly associated with tight calves and hamstrings because the fascia that surrounds these muscles runs continuous down the leg into the plantar fascia.
Should you be suffering from plantar fasciitis or have foot pain, the physiotherapist’s at SquareOne can identify contributing factors and develop a management plan to resolve them, assess for and correct biomechanics, provide manual therapy to release tight muscles, devise a clinic and home based exercise program to strengthen and stretch the appropriate muscles, and tape the foot to unload the painful area