Plantar fasciitis causing foot pain

Plantar Fasciitis is a leading cause of foot pain. So what is it? And what can be done for it?

Plantar fasciitis is pain on the inside aspect of the heel. The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue originating on the calcaneus (heel bone) and stretches out to the toes. It acts to help maintain the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation at this insertion into the heel bone (in more long standing cases it can start to cause degeneration in the plantar fascia).

plantar fasciitis
Plantar Fasciitis Pain Spots – from
Inflammation in plantar fasciitis
Inflammation in plantar fasciitis – from

Many people with plantar fasciitis also have a heel spur, this is a hook of bone that forms on the calcaneus (heel bone), this can be found on X-ray. The heel spur itself is not thought to be the primary cause of pain, rather the inflammation and irritation of the plantar fascia seems to be the primary problem. It is considered that plantar fasciitis may even cause heel spurs by irritating the bone, where the fascia connects.

Heel Spur
Heel Spur – from

How does it happen?

Plantar fasciitis occurs as a result of stretching or ‘pulling’ of the plantar fascia from its attachment on the heel bone. Running and walking is commonly associated with the development of plantar fasciitis. This injury is called an overuse injury; it may happen over a long period of time before the patient decides to seek treatment. There are many factors which can contribute to overuse of the plantar fascia, including:

  • Long periods of standing, especially if wearing poor footwear (e.g. shoes that do not provide enough support for the arch of the foot, or enough cushioning)
  • High body mass index – carrying excess weight increases the load on the plantar fascia
  • Increased training program – e.g. running/walking further especially if wearing old or inappropriate footwear
  • Bio-mechanics – e.g. having flat feet increases the load on the plantar fascia and can lead to overuse
  • Standing or walking on a lot of hard surfaces

How does it feel?

The pain is typically worse in the morning, with the first steps being very tender until the area warms up. Pain is worse with high impact weight-bearing activities. The site of tenderness is localised to the inside aspect of the heel, and is usually described as a dull ache. Over time, combined with the repetitive nature of running or walking, the inflammation can get worse and the intensity of the pain increases.

What should you do?

If you have or suspect you have plantar fasciitis then you should seek treatment as soon as possible. The earlier this injury is treated, the more successful the outcomes.

You can start some self treatment including:

  • ice – apply crushed ice wrapped in a wet cloth to the affected area for 10 minutes 1-3 times per day
  • massage – you can gently massage the plantar fascia (on the bottom of your foot) for 2-5 minutes daily, take care not to massage so hard that it is painful, alternately you can use a tennis ball or golf ball to roll over the plantar fascia, this may be particularly useful in the morning before getting up out of bed.
  • ice massage – use a drink bottle filled with water, that you have frozen, roll your foot over the frozen bottle for 3-5 minutes, this combines the ice and massage components if you prefer.

Ice water bottle roll

  • stretching – you can do stretches for the calf (lean forward in a lunge position, keeping the back heel down and knee straight to stretch the calf). To stretch the plantar fascia put one foot against the wall and lean forward to stretch out the bottom of the foot. Each of these stretches should be held for 30 seconds.

standing calf stretch     plantar fascia stretch

  • footwear modifications – you should try to wear supportive footwear (like walking shoes or joggers) rather than sandles or flip flops which do not offer any arch support for the foot.
  • heel cushioning and foot orthoses – your physiotherapist or podiatrist can recommend appropriate heel cushions or orthoses depending on your foot type.

What shouldn’t you do?

You shouldn’t ignore the problem. This injury is deceptive in that it warms up and you are able to walk and run on the area. Unfortunately each time you run on it you are causing more problems. With time, the pain will not warm up and your injury is far harder to treat, and may take longer to respond to conservative treatment.

Could there be any long-term effects?

There could be long-term problems with chronic pain in the area if symptoms are not adressed quickly.


Physiotherapy is important in the diagnosis and management of plantar fasciitis. An accurate diagnosis is necessary to ensure successful management outcomes. Once the extent of the injury is established, a treatment plan can be prescribed.

The treatment involves a combination of ice, massage, taping, stretching, and strengthening of the intrinsic muscles of the foot (to help unload the plantar fascia) as well as assessment and correction of bio-mechanical anomalies which may have caused the injury. Footwear assessment is also important in the successful treatment of plantar fasciitis. The physiotherapist will also be able to provide assistance in the return to activity program to prevent re-occurrence of the injury.

Gold Coast Physiotherapy – Burleigh Heads and Broadbeach Physiotherapy Centres 07 5535 5218


Our Response to Covid-19

This page is up to date to our best knowledge, however, this is a rapidly evolving situation so we apologise for any potential delay in updating this information.

We want to reassure all our patients that we are following stringent infection control procedures in our clinic, and screen all people coming into the clinic, to exclude any patients that have any signs or symptoms consistent with Covid-19, as well as screening any patients that should be in isolation ie recently returned from overseas, or have been advised to isolate due to recent exposure with a known Covid-19 patient.

All our staff have now completed the Department of Health Covid-19 Infection Control Training.

What are we doing to minimise risk?

  • Screening patients for risk factors over the phone or through text messages before they attend appointments. Those with risk factors or symptoms are advised not to attend & to seek medical advice.
  • Hand sanitiser station at the front of the building must be used before you enter.
  • Following stringent infection control measures within the clinic. This includes
    • Disinfecting all beds, door handles, EFTPOS machine before and after each patient use.
    • Linen changed between each patient and commonly touched surfaces through the practice are cleaned regularly throughout the day.
    • Minimising the distances between clients in the waiting room- some chairs are outside undercover.
  • We have advised our team members not to come to work if they have cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • We are following all Department of Health recommendations for our type of business.

On the 30th March 2020 – the Australian government issued a statement that “People aged over 70, aged over 60 with pre-existing conditions, or Indigenous people aged over 50 should stay home wherever possible for their own protection.”

The decision to come in for physiotherapy treatment really is an individual one – if you feel that your treatment is medically necessary, and are comfortable with the risks of leaving your home and coming to physiotherapy, then rest assured that when you attend our physiotherapy clinic, we are following our strict infection control processes and doing everything we can to minimise your risk whilst in our care. However, we completely understand if you are not comfortable with coming in for treatment.

TELEHealth Consultations

We are offering telehealth consults and home visits (where suitable) for patients who cannot attend our clinic.

Read more about TELEhealth Consultations here.

Staying Healthy

  • Wash your hands often (and for 20 seconds) with soap and water
  • Cough into your elbow or use a tissue to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Social distancing practices – Avoiding close contact with others, such as touching, including shaking hands
  • Limit contact with people who are sick, and stay home if you are sick and encourage employees to stay home when sick
  • Get 7-8 hours’ sleep a night to help your immune system stay strong
Please stay safe and take care of each other!

We are monitoring the situation very closely and will make adjustments to our business as we are further informed. Our priority is the health & well being of our patients and our staff. Thanks for your understanding.

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