Note from Erin at Blunders in Babyland:
It’s hard to get through pregnancy when you can barely walk.
Everyone knows that aches and pains come hand-in-hand with pregnancy. But one incredibly common ailment (that many women suffer from and isn’t regularly discussed) is plantar fasciitis. Mama, if you think you’re dealing with this condition, I feel for you. I’ve personally suffered from plantar fasciitis during pregnnacy and I know how debilitating it can be. That’s why I’m very excited for Annika at Therapydia to write about this topic. Annika is about to give you the full scoop on plantar fasciitis: what it is, why you’re suffering from it and, most importantly, how to treat it. I hope these tips help!
Many women often experience heel pain at some point during their pregnancy. With all of the changes that your body is going through, heel pain is often one of the symptoms that go along with pregnancy. This discomfort has a name: plantar fasciitis. Luckily, there are things you can do to rid yourself of the pain.
Before we get into what you can do about your plantar fasciitis heel pain, it’s important to know what it is and what causes it.
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What is Plantar Fasciitis?
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of the links I will make a small commission at no charge to you. Blunders in Babyland does not diagnose, treat, or give out any professional advice for any medical conditions.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition of the foot and heel that occurs when the connective tissues (known as plantar fascia) that extend from your heel to your toes beneath your foot become inflamed or irritated. This inflammation of the plantar fascia can make any movement of the heel or foot become painful.
Plantar Fasciitis is a common condition, affecting more than three million people in the US each year. Though plantar fasciitis affects the general public, it is also frequently seen during pregnancy. There are two factors that typically cause an uptick in plantar fasciitis diagnosis during pregnancy.
Factor 1: The first factor is an increase in weight beginning in the first trimester and continues on as the pregnancy progresses. This weight gain puts more pressure onto the feet which in turn causes the arch of the foot to relax, causing over-pronation. This change of foot stance puts an increased stress on the plantar fascia of the heel, resulting in pain.
Factor 2: The second factor is the release of a pregnancy hormone, Relaxin, which affects the ligaments in the entire body, including the feet. The release of Relaxin tells the body to loosen up the ligaments and the pelvis to prepare for birth. This hormone causes the heel ligaments to relax. In turn, the arch of the foot becomes unsupported, leading to pain.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis During Pregnancy
If you’ve experienced any of the following, you may have plantar fasciitis. Below are the common symptoms that women experience during their pregnancy:
- Heel pain first thing in the morning that decreases as you continue moving
- A pain or stiffness from the heel area to the mid arch of the foot
- Burning, aching or sharp pain in your heel
- Lingering heel pain that lasts more than a day
- Pain that is worse at the end of the day after prolonged standing
- Pain in the heel with initial steps after a prolonged period of inactivity
If left untreated, plantar fasciitis can continue to give you problems even after your pregnancy, such as a secondary dysfunction of the foot-ankle complex. If you notice symptoms of plantar fasciitis, it is important to visit a physical therapist for treatment to reduce your symptoms sooner rather than later. A physical therapist can help you determine your current risk factors to avoid any future pain.
What Can I do to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis During Pregnancy?
Though there is not much you can do in the way of preventing plantar fasciitis during your pregnancy, there are some measures you can take to help reduce your heel pain!
Plantar fasciitis is typically easy to treat as it responds well to stretching and strengthening exercises of the heel and foot. Here are a few easy stretches that you can do at home that should do the trick in reducing the amount of pain you’re feeling.
1. Frozen water bottle or lacrosse ball under foot massage
How to do this move: Roll your foot forwards and backwards over a lacrosse ball or frozen water bottle between heel and ball of your foot.
How this move helps: This can help mobilize the tissue and help with the pain response associated with plantar fasciitis. If you use a frozen water bottle, the ice will help to reduce inflammation of the plantar fascia and can bring much needed pain relief.
2. Knee to wall rocking
How to do this move: Place your foot a few inches away from a wall. Keep your whole foot down (especially your heel) as you begin to rock your knee forward to tap the wall. You should feel a stretch in the back of your calf. Repeat 20 times.
How this move helps: This move stretches the soleus muscle (a muscle that runs along the back of the calf from the knee to the heel) and improves ankle dorsiflexion. Poor ankle dorsiflexion is a risk factor for developing plantar fasciitis.
3. Seated short foot doming
How to do this move: Begin seated with your feet flat on the ground. Curl your toes downward. Keep ball of foot on the ground with your toes curled and actively try to increase the height of your arch. Return to the starting position. Note: your foot should remain flat on the ground during this exercise.
How this move helps: This move improves midfoot stability and provides support to the arch of the foot by decreasing stress through the plantar fascia.
When to Seek Treatment for Your Heel Pain
If you’ve exhausted all attempts at reducing your heel pain to no avail, it may be time to seek professional help- cue in your local physical therapist!
Physical therapists are well versed in treating plantar fasciitis and can determine the best plan of care for you to get you back to feeling comfortable and pain free.
Physical therapy treatments for plantar fasciitis heel pain may include:
- Manual therapy to mobilize stiffness around the ankle and foot area
- Taping of the foot and arch to provide pain relief
- Specific stretches for the plantar fascia
- Strengthening exercises for the ankle and foot
- Pelvic and hip strengthening exercises
- Recommendations on foot orthoses for additional foot support
Plantar fasciitis during pregnancy can be both painful and bothersome but physical therapists are here to help stop your heel pain in its tracks and give you techniques keep plantar fasciitis from developing in the future. If you believe you are suffering from plantar fasciitis, contact your local physical therapy clinic to set up an evaluation.