Injuries of the “Weekend Warrior”: Plantar Fasciitis
Category: Strength & Rehabilitation
Injuries of the “Weekend Warrior”: Plantar Fasciitis
Winter has finally ended and warmer weather is now on its way. After being stuck inside for several months, a majority of the population is eager to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather. For some, this may be just a casual walk around the block after dinner or a day at the beach. For others, warmer weather may bring certain weather dependent activities out of hibernation such as running or walking prolonged distances. Typically, when returning to activity after a long winter, many tend to go “all out” and can injure themselves as a result.
Signs and Symptoms:
Plantar fasciitis is a common injury that occurs as a result of over stressing or over exerting the intrinsic muscles of the foot leading to pain in the medial heel and/or medial arch of the foot.2 Pain is often the greatest when waking in the morning, standing after prolonged sitting, and running or walking for extended periods of time.2
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
There is no single cause for plantar fasciitis and in fact it can occur due to a variety of factors.2 The “Weekend Warriors” or those who pick up running after a prolonged period of dormancy often experience plantar fasciitis due to the inability of the intrinsic foot muscles to adapt to the current demand being placed upon them.2 This can lead to inflammation at the proximal attachment at the heel which can cause pain as a result. Plantar fasciitis can also occur as a result of poor running shoes or running mechanics which can lead to excessive pronation during an unwanted period of time of the gait cycle. The intrinsic foot muscles are over stretched which in turn can increase pain.2
Plantar fasciitis can occur as a result of kinetic chain or overall lower body weakness.1 This means that if the muscles of the hip are weak, the hip, the knee and the foot are all affected as a result. The hip adducts and internally rotates, the knee becomes knock kneed, the tibia (shin bone) internally rotates, and pronation occurs at the feet. One may experience hip, medial or lateral knee pain, and/or plantar fasciitis as a result.1
Self-Treatment & Avoidance of Injury
There are several methods involved in self-treatment of plantar fasciitis. First off, when beginning a new activity, one should ease themselves in to it. It is never beneficial to jump into a new activity after not participating in it for a long period of time as this can lead to injuries.
If experiencing signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis, one should roll their foot with a lacrosse ball, tennis ball, or baseball before rising from bed or from sitting.2 Areas of scar tissue develop as a result of micro tears in the plantar fascia and rolling out the foot can help decrease that first step pain often associated with plantar fasciitis.2
Hip strengthening, such as clamshells and bridges can help improve overall hip strength and decrease the kinetic chain influence.1 Clamshells are performed side lying, with knees bent. The ankles are “glued” together and the top leg is elevated about a foot above the lower leg. It is important to avoid rocking your body back and forth or using momentum as this may work other muscles instead.1
Glute bridges are performed lying on your back with your knees bent.1 Push through your heels and elevate your bottom from the table. Squeeze your bottom at the end of range and slowly lower. Both exercises (clamshells and bridges) can be performed for 3 set of 15 reps (3 x 15). Resistance bands can be added to increase difficulty of the exercise.1
The intrinsic foot muscles are often weak with plantar fasciitis.2 In order to strengthen these muscles one can perform towel curls and dice pick-ups.3 Towel curls are performed by placing a towel on the ground, removing sock and shoe and using toes to curl the towel. A cup of dice or marbles can be poured out onto the ground and the patient uses their toes to pick up the dice or marbles and place them into an empty cup.3
The great toe stretch is a stretch that can be performed to stretch the plantar fascia3. To stretch the great toe, find an object such as a stair, curb, text book, anything that has an edge.3 The great toe is extended against the object and held for 30 seconds. This can be performed three times.
Orthotics, night splints, and proper shoe wear can help decrease or eliminate symptoms of plantar fasciitis.3 Night splints are to be worn at bed time; place the foot in a position where the plantar fascia is relaxed. Orthotics are often used to help decrease pronation which causes additional stress on the plantar fascia. Proper footwear is important in decreasing impact and stress on the foot when running or walking and for decreasing faulty foot mechanics.3
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- Fullern B. How Core Muscles Can Affect The Lower Extremity. How Core Muscles Can Affect The Lower Extremity | Podiatry Today. http://www.podiatrytoday.com/article/8468. Published April 4, 2008. Accessed May 18, 2017.
- Plantar fasciitis. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/plantar-fasciitis/home/ovc-20268392. Published November 16, 2016. Accessed May 18, 2017.
- Plantar Fasciitis. Virtual Sports Injury Clinic. http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/sport-injuries/foot-heel-pain/plantar-fasciitis. Accessed May 18, 2017.
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