Plantar Fasciitis treatment plan

Plantar fasciitis treatment plan

The Exakt Health app’s plantar fasciitis treatment plan helps you strengthen not only your foot but also all of the muscles that support and protect your plantar fascia. Learn how it works.

Research-based treatment plan

Getting rid of plantar fasciitis can be challenging and frustrating. Most treatment plans only focus on stretching the plantar fascia or strengthening the foot. But usually, there’s more to it than that.

Research shows that the muscles higher up in your leg can also affect your heel pain, and load management (which involves adjusting the total time you spend on your feet) is essential in treating the condition. 

The Exakt Health app contains a holistic treatment plan

  • The app guides you safely from when your foot first becomes painful to a full return to sport.
  • The treatment plan contains evidence-based exercises for your foot and the other muscles supporting your plantar fascia.
  • It provides you with clear guidance on reps, sets and frequency.
  • The app adapts the program according to your feedback and specific needs.
  • It teaches you about load management and how to adapt your general daily activities to allow recovery.
  • The walk/run program helps you to ease back into running safely.
  • We’ve also included a maintenance program to prevent re-injury.
The plantar fasciitis treatment plan in the Exakt Health app provides you with daily workouts and injury advice to speed up your recovery.
The injury overview screen teaches your about plantar fasciitis - what causes it, when to see a doctor and what treatments work best.

The app teaches you about plantar fasciitis

Understanding what caused your case of plantar fasciitis, how it heals, and when to see a doctor helps you better plan your recovery and prevent re-injury.

The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of tissue underneath your foot that runs from your heel bone to your toes. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain under the heel in athletes and non-athletes. It is caused when you overload the plantar fascia where it attaches to the heel bone.

You feel the pain from plantar fasciitis on the medial attachment to the heel bone.

 

The intensity of your symptoms will vary throughout the day depending on how irritated your plantar fascia is. The most common reported symptoms include:

  • No pain when you’re off your feet, like lying down or sitting
  • The main pain and stiffness is on the inner part of your heel or inside foot arch when standing, walking, or pressing on that area
  • The first few steps when getting out of bed in the morning is uncomfortable and painful
  • Pain decreases once you’re moving around but increases again when you spend too much time on your feet
  • You feel pain when you stand and walk again after a long period of sitting or being off your feet
Plantar fasciitis can be treated effectively at home using a conservative exercise-based treatment plan as outlined in the app.
 
You should consider seeing a medical practitioner if you have any concerns about your injury, particularly if:
 
  • You have pain at night that keeps you awake or interrupts your sleep.
  • You feel pins and needles or tingling in your leg or foot.
  • Your symptoms are getting worse.
  • Your injury is not healing as expected (see expected healing times below).

The plantar fascia strengthens the arch of your foot and keeps it from collapsing under load. Plantar fasciitis occurs after repeated over-loading, especially after high-impact activities such as hill running. 

Common causes of plantar fasciitis include:

  • Insufficient shoe support for your foot arch – for example, going sightseeing in flip-flops or doing long-distance running in minimalist shoes
  • Sudden weight increases can overload the feet
  • Tight calves, hamstrings, or glute muscles can create a strong pull on your plantar fascia
  • Increasing your running intensity or training volume too quickly with, for example, fast or hill running
  • Walking or running on harder surfaces
  • Weak leg and foot muscles that cannot absorb high-impact activities

Treatment

There is no single treatment to cure plantar fasciitis because various factors can cause it. Although the following treatment options may help reduce your pain in the short term, only strength training can ultimately help you recover in the long term.

Treatment options include:

  • Relative rest – cutting out aggravating activities and reducing your training program to avoid increasing symptoms
  • Supportive shoes – shoes with or without orthotics that adequately support the arch of your foot
  • Gentle plantar fascia stretching, don’t be aggressive as overstretching can increase pain 
  • Stretches for glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles
  • Self-massage of your plantar fascia and the other leg muscles
  • Progressive strength training for your foot and leg muscles

Other treatments that may be useful:

  • Wearing a night splint while sleeping 
  • Taping to support the arch of your foot
  • Losing weight
  • Using shockwave and low-level laser therapy
  • Corticosteroid injections (but note, although they can reduce short-term pain, they may hinder long-term recovery)

Healing times

Recovery can take anywhere from 12 weeks to 18 months or longer, depending on the severity of your symptoms and how quickly you follow the correct treatment advice.

Prevention

  • Wear supportive shoes.
  • When switching to less supportive, minimalist shoes, transition slowly, and when beginning, only run short distances in them.
  • Avoid walking barefoot on hard surfaces.
  • Do regular strength training for your core and general leg muscles. 

The plantar fasciitis treatment plan consists of 7 stages

The app starts you off with gentle exercises and advice on load management to allow your heel pain to calm down. After that, to regain full strength, the workout intensities increase as your plantar fascia heals. The app ensures that you progress correctly by setting clear targets at each stage.

The main aim during this stage is to allow your plantar fascia to settle down while you start building strength in low-load positions.

Morning and evening routine

Getting into the habit of doing gentle stretches and massage when you get up in the morning and after a long day on your feet can help decrease your pain. The app makes this easy for you by suggesting helpful and practical exercises.

Foot and ankle strength and control

The app includes exercises that strengthen the muscles around the ankle and foot during this stage, reducing the load on the plantar fascia. These are low-intensity exercises performed in positions that don’t load the plantar fascia yet.

Leg and core strength

Your core and leg muscles have to absorb a significant amount of force when running and walking. If they are weak, it can lead to the plantar fascia being over-loaded. As with the foot and ankle exercises, the app starts you off with core and leg exercises in positions that keep the load off your plantar fascia.

Flexibility workouts

It’s vital to ensure good flexibility in all the muscles that make up your posterior chain (those that run along the back of your body) and attach to your plantar fascia. The app includes stretches for your glutes, hamstrings, and calves for this reason.

Tips to optimize recovery

We’ve also included advice on footwear, load management, and cross-training to maintain your fitness.

Activities to avoid

  • Limit your standing and walking so that you don’t experience any increase in pain, during or after.
  • Avoid running, jumping, and hopping activities.

When to progress

You can progress to the next stage when:

  1. You can complete the foot strength workouts with ease,  
  2. and you pass the heel raise test that the app sets for you.

During this stage, the app will help you prepare your plantar fascia, foot, and leg muscles for heavy strength training. The workouts will now incorporate weight-bearing positions that load the plantar fascia functionally.

Activities to avoid

It would be best if you still avoided all jumping or running activities. In addition, limit your walks to distances that do not increase your pain.

When to progress

You can proceed to the next stage:

  1. When you can walk short distances,
  2. and complete the assigned strength training workouts without increasing pain.

The plantar fascia has to absorb enormous forces when you’re standing, walking, running, and jumping. For instance, when you run, you can generate up to 6 times your bodyweight in your foot and leg alone.

To prepare your plantar fascia for these sorts of loads, it’s also essential to incorporate heavy strength training into your rehab program. Smartly, the app takes care of this, increasing the load and intensity of your workouts slowly and safely.

Activities to avoid

You should still avoid all running and jumping activities.

When to progress

Continue to the next stage when:

  1. You can walk for 30 minutes at a slow pace,
  2. and complete the heel raise exercises with a weight equal to 10% of your body weight,
  3. and do your individualized hop tests without increasing your pain.

In this stage, the app will help you prepare your plantar fascia for the explosive forces generated when running. It does this through a progressive hopping (plyometric) program. You’ll also continue to work on your general leg and calf strength.

Activities to avoid

Avoid running activities.

When to progress

You can progress to the next stage when:

  1. You can walk at a brisk pace for 30 minutes,
  2. and do the Heel Raise exercise with a weight equal to 20% of your body weight,
  3. and have completed the entire hopping program without pain.

Run/Walk Program

Now, you’re ready to start a return to running program. The safest way to ease back into running is by following a program that alternates short running and walking intervals. The app guides you through this process, including warm-up and cool-down exercises.

Maintaining strength

The focus in your strength sessions now will shift to maintaining what you’ve built. Therefore, their frequency will reduce as your running volume increases. This adjustment is crucial to avoid overloading your plantar fascia, especially if you continue to do high volumes of strength training while also increasing your running volumes.

Activities to avoid

You should not yet do high-intensity training sessions like tempo runs, intervals, or hill sessions. 

When to progress

Progress to the next stage when you can jog 20 minutes at a leisurely pace without aggravating your symptoms.

The focus is now on regaining your previous running endurance in your plantar fascia and leg muscles. However, be careful not to increase your running volumes and frequency too quickly. Your plantar fascia will need time to adapt and grow stronger.

The strength workouts will maintain the strength you’ve built in the previous stages.

Activities to avoid

Avoid high-intensity running such as tempo, sprints, or hill sessions. High-intensity training creates much greater forces than easy running sessions, and your plantar fascia will not be strong enough yet to cope with them.

When to progress

You can progress to the next stage when you’re able to run your usual weekly running volume at your regular easy running pace, pain-free.

Now is the time to start training with increasing speed and intensity. It’s usually best to start with just once a week and ease into it – don’t go full out from the start.

It would help reduce re-injury risk if you continued with your weekly strength training routine to support your running activities. The app provides an ongoing maintenance program to help you with this. 

The plantar fasciitis treatment plan has 7 stages and the workouts increase in intensity as you grow stronger..
The Exact Health App contains treatment plans for common running injuries.

Recover faster. Now.

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