Plantar fasciitis is a very common problem many Australians deal with each year, which SMA describes as condition of pain and tissue damage at the attachment of the plantar fascia to the underside of the calcaneus (heel bone).
As a therapist, it can be an extremely frustrating condition to treat as typically, treatment has generally involved some for of ice massage (which is useless but feels nice), maybe orthotics or some stretching which can also provide very temporary relief. In recent years, like many conditions, we are now looking at strength as the answer. There have been studies done over a recent years suggesting high load is better, others suggesting strength endurance is more important, however at the end of the day, we can all seem to agree that being stronger is better, and just resting (like so many people do), won’t get you far.
I don’t have plantar fasciitis
One simple and fun way to test if you are susceptible to plantar fasciopathy is to do a simple calf raise test at home! This can be a really easy and fun way to know if you have the basic level of strength endurance required to get around, be it at the gym, at the shops, through work or when running. Below I’ve listed the normative values so you can determine whether you would considered at risk when looking solely at calf strength
20-29yrs: Male 37, Female 30
30-39yrs: Male 32, Female 27
40-49yrs: Male 28, Female 24
50-59yrs: Male 23, Female 21
60-69yrs: Male 19, Female 19
70-79yrs: Male 14, Female 16
I have plantar fasciitis
If you are experiencing plantar faciitis, my first recommendation would be to see a professional for help. Regardless of who you see, you need to walk (or limp) away with the following information:
- Do you have biomechanical faults in the foot
- What about in the ankle, knee or hip? This is important too!
- Are you strong enough?
- What rehab should you be doing to help?
If you walk away with rest, ice massage and generic inserts, you’ve found yourself at the wrong place- keep looking for someone who can give you sound advice!
Ref for figures:
Hébert-Losier et al. 2017