The first few steps in the morning are agonizing if you struggle with plantar fasciitis. We once thought it was because the fascia contracted during the night and pain occurred as the tissue stretched with that first step. It made sense then, that stretching more would solve the problem. But stretching exercises and orthotics are not very effective in treating plantar fasciitis. Many patients still experience pain up to two years after the onset of symptoms.
Though “itis” indicates an inflammatory process, there is no inflammation with plantar fasciitis. Instead collagen fibers have deteriorated and there is a general decrease in the tensile strength of the tissue.
It makes sense, then, that high load strengthening exercises improve the strength and function of the connective tissue.
New research from Denmark showed just that. The study divided subjects with plantar fasciitis into two groups, a stretching group and a strengthening group.
After 3 months of doing exercises every other day, the strengthening group had substantially less pain than the stretching group. At the 12 month follow-up, the strength group was more satisfied overall with the outcome of treatment than was the stretching group, although the stretching group did improve after 9 to 12 months. For quicker, long lasting relief from plantar fascia pain, follow the exercises in this video.
Other physical therapy treatment such as TDN, AlterG, and mobilization, in addition to strength training, will get you back in action even faster.