Frankie Naylor Sports Therapy

Winters in Wellies and the Link to Plantar Fasciitis

If you have horses I need not remind you about the weather in England from September through to March. Surviving muddy equestrian winters is standard for so many. But finding footwear that can not only withstand the mud but also support our feet seems a feat on a totally different level!

So it’s no surprise (to me anyway) that come the end of the winter I treat increasing numbers of foot complaints. The reason? Excessive time slopping around the countryside in wellies. Our poor feet have lacked support throughout the winter and the strain is evident by spring.

Probably the most common foot injury that I deal with is plantar fasciitis (PF). The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that stretches from the heel to the base of the toes. It supports the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is a chronic condition whereby the plantar fascia becomes inflamed. This inflammation causes pain on weight-bearing.

PF is usually common in sports involving running and jumping on hard surfaces. This tends not to be the case in the individuals I treat.

Putting horses on and off the walker, walking to and from muddy fields and long-reining can contribute massively to PF.  Weight gain alongside ill-fitting, heavy and poorly laced footwear can be major factors too especially if you’ve recently upped your mileage.

The symptoms of PF involve an intense pain on the heel or base of the foot in the mornings. This pain may improve with exercise up but can often return after rest. Untreated the condition often worsens. Secondary injuries may occur in the knee, hip and lower back. The condition may continue for a few months. In more severe cases surgery may be warranted.

Luckily a conversation is often had in the early inflammatory stage with my clients. Typically they’ll come in for a routine treatment and it will be mentioned while they’re here. This is great because often it can be managed early on.

I regularly treat PF with ultrasound and massage followed by kinesiotaping. Massage of the lower legs is beneficial too. Sometimes help from a specialist podiatrist or other professional may be needed so we develop a strategy incorporating all the necessary elements. If you think that this is an issue that is affecting you do get in touch.

Self-help tips….

  1. Initially apply ice to reduce inflammation
  2. Later heat can be applied to aid mobilisation
  3. Self-massage, rolling a golf ball under the foot will break down tight tissue
  4. Next perform calf stretches to increase flexibility
  5. Then add in calf raises to strengthen lower legs
  6. Wear lightweight, supportive, well laced footwear
  7. Orthotics, heel cups and night splints can also benefit in some cases

Have you struggled with foot pain or finding the appropriate footwear? We’d love to hear your experiences.

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