Heel Pain : Plantar Fasciitis Explained

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain that we see.

It is characterised by the sharp, stabbing pain in the bottom of the heel with walking, which is usually most severe first thing in the morning or with excess activity.

Plantar fasciitis commonly called by the more generic term ‘plantar heel pain’ nowadays.

How Do I Know If I Have Plantar Fasciitis (Plantar Heel Pain) ?

There are a few key symptoms that are indicative of plantar fasciitis that your physio will use to help diagnose the source of your pain

  1. Pain first thing in the morning when getting out of bed and weight baring through the painful foot
  2. Pain after extended periods of rest
  3. Pain is described as a sharp, stabbing pain, very focal (small area) to under the heel (where the fascia inserts in to the calcaneum)
  4. Pain in the heel or arch worsens with increased activity (walking, running)
  5. Pain may radiate to the arch
  6. Able to reproduce your pain when your physio heavily presses on the fascia insertion at the calcaneum. In simple terms, often your physio will be able to locate the source of your pain

What Caused My Plantar Fasciitis ?

Usually plantar fasciitis is caused by a change in weight baring to your foot/feet.

A few common examples we see are :

  • Moving house : Change in floor surface density

If your old house had softer floors and your new house has harder floors, this change in surface puts more stress on the fascia. Some examples – moving from carpet to wooden floors. Moving from floating wooden floors to hard wooden floors. Moving from wooden floors to a house with tiles.

  • Moving house : Change in floor area

If your old house was much smaller than your new house, the extra surface area you are now covering can stress the fascia in your feet leading to plantar heel pain

  • Winter to summer : Changing from closed in supportive shoes over winter to thongs in the warmer months

If you have just spent 5 or 6 months in supportive, closed in shoes to walking around barefoot or in thongs with minimal arch support, this can add stress to the plantar fascia causing pain at it’s insertion point in the heel

  • On a health kick : Increase in walking or running

If you have suddenly increased in distance and/or frequency of walking or running, the extra pressure to fascia can lead to pain

Treatment For Plantar Fasciitis

Treatment for plantar fasciitis usually involves :

  • Hands on techniques to reduce pain, including rolling your foot on a spikey ball
  • Strengthening for under your arch and calf
  • Putting measures in place to prevent worsening (eg. if moving house from carpet to tiles was the cause of pain, your physio may recommend to wear house shoes with arch support for a short time and slowly get your feet used to the new surface)
  • Graded exposure – slowly exposing your feet to the activities that stress it in a controlled environment. (An example: Grange to Henley beach walker – progress from walking on footpath with supportive shoes, to sand with supportive shoes, to sand without shoes in a very controlled weekly routine.)
  • Taping and/or orthotics – our physios work closely with podiatrists in Grange, Henley and West Lakes if custom orthotics are required
  • If your pain is particularly intense, a 2 week stint of anti-inflammatory medication may be suggested by your physio

Thanks for reading, we hope these tips where helpful.

If you’re experiencing plantar heel pain and would like the assistance of a Physiotherapist, feel free to call the clinic on 8356 1379 or book an appointment online.


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