Physiotherapy Exercises for Heel Pain
I thought of writing on the common issue which we young girls face normally these days. As I mentioned in my article earlier that wearing high heels can lead to several foot problems, this article is related to the heel pain caused due to foot wears or otherwise.
Sometimes we have heel pain but we ignore it thinking that we might have exerted a lot today. But the fact is that when we are not wearing properly cushioned footwear, it leads to micro tear of the fascia in our foot called as plantar fascia and the condition is termed as plantar fasciitis. Let’s discuss about it in details.
Plantar fasciitis is commonly referred to as heel pain in layman language. The pain is related to the bottom of the foot and is sometimes called as heel spur. The plantar fascia is nothing but a thick band of connective tissue which runs from the front of the heel bone known as calcaneus to the ball of the foot. This tissue basically acts as a string on the arch of the foot simply replicating the string on the archer’s bow.
The Achilles tendon (the calf muscles insertion point) also inserts on the calcaneus bone. Though both the attachments have different functions in the foot, but they are related to each other in indirect manner. The repetitive strain due to improper footwear leads to inflammation in the fascia is termed as plantar fasciitis.
The sufferer faces pain when it pulls the toes towards the face or up towards the ceiling, the fascia gets stretched. The force exerted by the Achilles tendon increases the strain on the fascia causing the micro tears in the fascia. This causes flattening of the arch of the foot causing more pain in the heel.
Causes of the plantar fasciitis:
1) Faulty foot mechanics
Abnormal walking pattern like walking with the knees inward, or improper foot, ankle, knee and hip biomechanics can lead to this problem.
2) Improper shoes: Shoes lacking cushioning effect, proper fitting, worn out, thin soled, lack arch support or are having inadequate shock absorption lead to heel pain. Example wearing flip flop sandals.
3) Excessive weight: Sudden increase in body weight can lead to increased stress on the fascia thus causing pain.
Advancing too much early into any movement while performing any sport can cause micro tears in the fascia thus triggering the problem.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis:
1) Pain along the inside of the foot from the heel to the arch of the foot.
2) Pain worsens when weight is put on the foot like during walking, prolonged standing etc.
3) Pain is intense after night’s sleep in the morning when you put your foot on the ground.
4) Pulling toes up towards the face or ceiling increases pain.
5) Tenderness on touching the heel pad.
Physiotherapy for plantar fasciitis:
After diagnosing the problem, basic physiotherapy should be started at home. If this problem is not treated right on time, then can lead to severe condition where surgery remains the only option. So girls don’t ignore. After all health is everything.
Avoid activity and take some rest. Avoid running till your pain subsides. Instead start swimming till the fascia heals.
2) Ice packs:
When your pain triggers, apply ice pack on the heel for 15 minutes. The pain will stop instantly.
Do both the calf stretches and the plantar fascia stretches.
a) Calf stretches:
Stand with the wall support. Keep the foot to be stretched at back with leg straight and heel down. Gently move towards the wall till you feel the stretch at the back of the leg on your calf muscles. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg too.
b) Plantar fascia stretch:
While sitting, grab your heel with one hand and toes with other. Slightly move the toes together with hand towards yourself. Stop when you feel the stretch on the arch of the foot. Don’t do this in excess. Repeat it 5 times a day.
4) Strengthening of the intrinsic muscles of the foot:
Put a towel on the floor and try to grab the towel with your toes like pulling it towards yourself. Again straighten the towel and then repeat the same.
5) Use of heel pads:
Extra cushioning with the heel pads gives relief to the fascia. This will correct the biomechanics of the foot too.
6) Night splints:
If your problem is in excess and the tightness in the Achilles tendon prevails even after the stretches, then consult your physiotherapist for night splints. This will reduce the tightness in the calf muscles thus relieving the pain in the heel.
So girls, try these simple steps at home and be free from the heel pain. Be careful when you buy your footwear. Choose wisely by combining both fashion and comfort in a correct manner
About the Author
Dr Chandan Kaur Khera is Masters in Pthysiotherapy and is very passionate about her Work. Read other articles by the Author HERE
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