What is Plantar Fasciopathy?
The plantar fascia is a thick connective tissue that spans from your heel bone into your toes. Its role is to act as a support structure for the foot to help absorb shock as well as an anchor point/ attachment site for muscles.
Plantar fasciopathy (PF) is the thickening of this structure due to overuse. This can occur from an imbalance between load, the amount of stress put through the structure and capacity which is how much the tissue can tolerate.
An example of an increased load is ramping up your running distance or standing for long periods at work. Reductions in capacity can include or caused by neglecting strength training, prolonged physical inactivity, and stress.
How Is Plantar Fasciopathy Diagnosed?
A health practitioner can diagnose Plantar Fasciopathy by getting a history of your systems and physical assessment. Some hallmark signs include:
- Pain with the first few steps in the morning or after not moving for a prolonged period
- Symptoms reducing once moving/ warmed up
- Recent changes in physical activity
- Soreness when pressing on the inside of the heel and along the foot
- Reduced ankle movement on the affected side
- Windlass test: Symptoms when stretching the foot and toes back
- Ultrasound imaging with thickening between 3- 7mm
Who Is Plantar Fasciopathy Most Commonly Seen In?
You are more likely to be at risk of developing plantar fasciopathy if:
- Age: 40-60
- Your occupation involves prolonged standing or walking on hard surfaces
What Potential Short/Long Term Treatments May Include?
Treatment will vary depending on your specific goal.
For runners/athletes who develop plantar fasciopathy, a short-term solution would be to reduce training intensity. In the long term, addressing deficiencies in biomechanics as well as training programs can help prevent recurrence.
For the general population, stretching and strengthening the plantar fascia is useful both long and short term. Orthotics may also be used for pain relief.