Is Plantar Fasciitis Massage Beneficial in Terms of Treatment?
Many of the patients attending the heel clinic have tried previous treatments including plantar fasciitis massage. The results from this treatment are inconclusive and currently there is no evidence based research to support the therapy. Plantar fasciitis massage involves firm soft tissue release through the soul of the foot from the base of the heel through the arch. Patients with plantar fasciitis experience pain under the base of the heel, more often on the medial side. The discomfort often travels through the arch of the foot and can be relentless. Plantar fasciitis massage is intended to release the tension in the facia and therefore reduce the heel pain. The symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain first thing in the morning when the heel hits the ground. Usually, the patient will struggle to walk for the first 20 minutes of their day before the initial start-up pain begins to resolve. If the initial start-up pain does not resolve and the plantar heel pain continues throughout the day than we consider this to be a more aggressive and more acute case of plantar fasciitis. In these circumstances, the podiatrist at the heel clinic do not believe that a plantar fasciitis massage helps to reverse the condition.
Who Provides Plantar Fasciitis Massage?
The most typical allied health practitioners that provide plantar fasciitis massage would be physiotherapists and massage therapists alike. You may also find reflexologists and Thai massage centres offering the same. Physiotherapists may also involve other treatments such as stretching and strengthening but these are often not advised by podiatrists as they can add further load to the plantar fascia. Sports podiatrist do not usually present plantar fasciitis massage as a reliable treatment option, but instead will explain the benefits of unloading the plantar fascia with interventional support.
What Does Plantar Fasciitis Massage Feel Like?
The majority of patients presenting at the heel clinic who have engaged in plantar fasciitis massage explain to the podiatrist that the treatment is uncomfortable and can be extremely painful. The firm finger pressure applied to the part of the facia that is irritated can be difficult or impossible to bear. Sometimes there is short-term relief following the massage and this can encourage the patient to return for further treatment. However, most patients find that the treatment does not help healing overall and therefore they choose not to continue after receiving a handful of sessions. During the plantar fasciitis massage, if the finger pressure applied to the sole of the foot is gentle then the feedback is more positive and the treatment is more bearable. Once again, overall healing of the plantar fasciitis is not guaranteed and quite often the heel pain continues.
Are There Treatments Other Than Plantar Fasciitis Massage?
In addition to plantar fasciitis massage there are many treatment options. At the heel clinic the sports podiatrists carry out a thorough bio mechanical assessment and undertake physical tests in order to determine the most reliable treatment option. Most of the patients at the heel clinic benefit from supportive intervention which unloads the plantar fascia and allows it to heal naturally, without injections or medication. This can involve the prescription of new functional footwear or supportive orthotics which will touch and hold the plantar fascia without pressing against it. In extreme circumstances the use of an immobilisation boot is required. The podiatrists rarely recommend plantar fasciitis massage as the treatments above are found to be more reliable. During treatment at the heel clinic the podiatrists will normally recommend that the patient does not engage in treatments outside of the clinic and in particular they are requested not to engage in plantar fasciitis massage or plantar fasciitis stretching techniques.
If you have tried plantar fasciitis massage and you are still experiencing heel pain or arch pain you may consider consulting with a qualified sports podiatrist. The Heel Clinic has vast experience in the treatment of painful heel conditions including plantar fasciitis and arch pain. Please note that the information in this article is not medical advice and does not suggest that you won’t enjoy the temporary relief from plantar fasciitis massage.