• Clare Lewey

Plantar fasciitis - You don’t have to be an officer of the law to get policeman’s heel

What is plantar fasciitis?


Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band of tissue known as the plantar fascia that extends from the heel to the toes. In this condition the fascia becomes irritated and inflamed resulting in heel pain. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It is most commonly seen in middle-aged men and women but may affect anyone, especially those who are constantly on their feet. It is therefore sometimes called policeman's heel because of the time policemen spend on their feet - however plantar fasciitis is a condition that really can affect anybody.


What causes plantar fasciitis?


The plantar fascia operates as a shock absorber and supports the arch of the foot. With the entire weight of the body supported by the feet, excessive pressure or over-stretching of the fascia may strain and tear the tissue causing the heel pain.


Pressure and stretching of the plantar fascia leading to plantar fasciitis can be caused by:

  • Tight calf muscles can cause plantar fasciitis as the Achilles tendon pulls on the heel bone, stressing the plantar fascia.

  • Quick movement sports and exercises like football and aerobics, especially if there has been a sudden increase in activities like these.

  • An increase in the number of steps per day or a sharp increase in physical exercise.

  • Bio mechanical issues such as flat foot.

  • Shoes – flat, flexible, soft “comfortable shoes” do not support the arch of the foot, stress the plantar fascia and can cause heel pain if worn too frequently.

  • Foot shape – patients with high arches can lack support in the arch of the foot.

  • Walking or standing on hard surfaces for a long period.

  • Obesity.

What are the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?


Early stage - Initially, patients may feel a dull ache in the base of the heel. There may be an awareness of a problem in the afternoons and evenings or after they have been weight bearing for long periods of time. It is possible that they feel some pulling in the plantar fascia, which they describe as a tightness in the arch or the sole of the foot. There can also be some heel pain in the morning when the foot hits the floor and they start to walk but this may be mild and is often little more than a feeling of mild soreness and tightness that can be walked off


Chronic stage - If the strain on the plantar fascia goes on for long enough and remains untreated, the pain in the heel may become more more consistent and patients will usually report increased pain, not just stiffness each morning when getting out of bed and on walking after sitting for a period of time. Pain will often increase with prolonged walking or standing.


Severe stage - The strain on the plantar fascia has been so great and so repetitive that severe inflammation develops along with extreme pain. Patients with this stage of the condition will usually experience high levels of pain in the heel and arch of the foot which can be present for most of the day.


Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis at Cotswold Physiotherapy


We have developed a complete plantar fasciitis treatment approach to get patients back on their feet. While orthotics may help to support your foot in some cases, the correct exercises and day to day management are the key to long term resolution. This is what we do best - either through physiotherapy treatment, shockwave therapy treatment, prescribed exercises, or any combination of these.


Our main goal is to correct the function of your foot with non-surgical and non-invasive methods. We restore flexibility, circulation, and function to the muscles of the foot and leg. These are ultimately responsible for protecting your plantar fascia.


We use a combination of orthotic foot support, electrotherapy (pulsed ultrasound and radial shockwave therapy), manual physiotherapy and prescribed exercises to correct the root cause of all foot pain, not just plantar fasciitis. This evidence-based approach gives you the best chance of a lasting recovery.


For further information, or to book treatment for plantar fasciitis call us on 01993 201485 or send an enquiry here.

Witney Physiotherapy Centre

Suite 1, Bridge Street Mills

Witney, Oxfordshire OX28 1FX

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Telephone: 01993 201485

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