Plantar Fasciitis: Restoring Your Happy Feet

By Romeo Salazar MPT, ATC

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Anatomy of the foot and plantar fascia.

Plantar fasciitis medical illustration.

Plantar Fasciitis is a foot condition in which connective tissue at the bottom of the foot becomes inflamed and very painful. The plantar fascia is fan shaped and originates from the bottom of the heel. It runs along the sole of the foot, and attaches to the base of each toe. Heel spurs may form at the origin of the plantar fascia due to ongoing, repetitive stress or overstretching. Individuals with this condition may experience:
  • Pain and tenderness at the bottom of the heel or foot.
  • Tenderness along the underside of the foot.
  • Aching at the arch of the foot and/or at the ball of the foot.
One of the most common symptoms of plantar fasciitis is heel pain which is worse in the mornings when the individual takes his or her first steps.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis is caused by overuse in which the plantar fascia is repetitively strained. It can also be due to issues involving joint, muscle, and bone activity that lead to foot pronation.  Foot pronation is the motion when the foot rotates inward towards the midline of the body and downwards to the ground.

Mechanical Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

Usually, the mechanical cause of plantar fasciitis is associated with the fascia being excessively stressed. This can occur from excessive amounts of pronation or prolonged periods of pronation at the foot in weight-bearing. In addition, individuals with high arches have a potential to excessively wear the plantar fascia. This occurs from the combination of a tight plantar fascia, decreased normal pronation range of motion, and poor ability for shock absorption at the foot when walking and running.  Other causes of plantar fasciitis include repetitive jumping, overuse from running, a frequent change in the surface(sand or concrete), tight Achilles tendon, and poor footwear (little to no arch support or stiff soles).

Restoring Your Happy Feet

Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis:

Physical Therapy:

There are many Physical Therapy treatments for Plantar Fasciitis that can be carried out at JOI rehab.   Modalities can be used in physical therapy to reduce pain and inflammation. In this case, they may include moist heat, ice packs/ice massage, ultrasound with or without medications, iontophoresis, soft tissue mobilization including Graston Technique, and medical laser.
Other effective treatments for prevention and care of plantar fasciitis include foot orthotics and arch taping.  In addition, a good stretching program is important to reduce plantar fascia stress due to a tight plantar fascia and/or a tight Achilles tendon.  Your therapist or trainer may use joint mobilization to increase mobility at various joints of the foot and ankle.  Foot and ankle strengthening are also necessary components to plantar fasciitis rehab.  Rest and night splints are done outside of PT rehab. Treatments by physician may include anti-inflammatory medication, corticosteroid injections, and in rare cases, surgical intervention.

Home Exercise Program for Plantar Fasciitis:

A home exercise program (HEP) is critical for successful management of Plantar Fasciitis.  This may include but is not limited to: stretches for the muscles of the lower leg and foot, strengthening of the lower leg and foot, and modalities. Lower leg stretches include gastrocnemius (calf) muscle and soleus (deep calf) muscle flexibility exercises done in non-weight bearing and weight bearing positions. Foot stretches include big toe/plantar fascia flexibility exercises.  Strengthening exercises may consist of heel raises and toe curls with a towel.  Lastly, effective home treatments may include self plantar fascia soft tissue massage using a golf ball and ice massage after exercises.  Before starting a HEP, please consult with your JOI Rehab clinician who will give you an appropriate, comprehensive program, with written instructions and illustrations.

Active Rest” in the Healing Process

Individuals may participate in general exercise while resting the affected plantar fascia of the foot.  This will benefit general health, overall conditioning, and healing.  These activities should avoid any movement that requires the individual to raise up on his/her toes.  Suggestions include cycling (do not pedal on toes), swimming, arm bike, and upper body fitness exercise.
Management and Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis
Management and treatment of Plantar Fasciitis can be comprehensive. However, it takes time, consistency and effort by both the patient and clinician is key to achieve successful rehab results. Get started on seeking medical attention if you are currently having issues with Plantar Fasciitis that are limiting your normal daily activities.  Try to see a physician soon, if you have not already, and ask if Physical Therapy is appropriate for you.
Our knowledgeable and caring clinicians at our multiple JOI Rehab locations are ready and waiting to help you heal, restore, and get back to “Happy Feet”.
If you want to learn more about the home remedies for heel pain, go to:


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