It's a question I'm asked frequently - "can you help with plantar fasciitis?" - and to be honest, the answer isn't straightforward. Let's look at the condition in more detail to see what might alleviate symptoms.
What is plantar fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is the fibrous band of soft tissue which connects your toes to your heel bone, and helps to reinforce the arch of your foot. When repetitively strained, this can result in a painful inflammatory condition called plantar fasciitis.
Common symptoms include:
Variable pain, usually on the sole of the foot around or near the heel bone, and typically much worse when you start walking after sleeping or rest (also known as 'first step' pain) / You might find the pain eases through the day with exercise, but you could also find the pain worsens towards the end of the day or after exercise.
Tenderness, usually on the underside of the heel.
Difficulty raising toes off the floor.
How common is it?
Plantar fasciitis is relatively common, affecting roughly 1 in every 10 people. Whilst it tends to be more common amongst those whose occupations involve standing on hard surfaces for long periods, or those who carry out sporting activities such as long distance running, it can affect anyone.
You may be at an increased risk of suffering from this condition if you:
are 40 - 60 years old
have recently started doing a lot more walking, running or standing
have recently started exercising on hard surfaces
wear shoes with poor cushioning or support
exercise with a tight calf or heel
overstretch the sole of your foot during exercise
Plantar fasciitis affects approximately 1 in 10 people
How do I alleviate symptoms?
Plantar fasciitis will often go away on its own, but there are many things you can do to help alleviate symptoms including:
Seeking the advice of a podiatrist – they may be able to provide insoles to correct your foot position which will put less stress on the leg muscles and reduce the pull on the plantar fascia
Gentle stretches and rolling of the plantar fascia, examples of which can be found here
Visiting the NHS website for further recommendations such as using ice, simple painkillers and weight management
As reflexologists, our primary recommendation for the treatment of plantar fasciitis is always to seek the help of a GP or podiatrist.
It is possible that for some clients the manipulation of the foot during reflexology may help release some muscle and foot tension. Reflexologists will tailor the pressure used during a treatment to each individual, so if your plantar fascia is particularly tender we can use much lighter pressure on the affected foot, or alternatively switch to hand reflexology.
If you would like to book a reflexology treatment or discuss your needs in further detail, please feel free to send me a message here.
Further information and resources
OxSport - Department of Sport and Exercise Medicine - of the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust