Simple Stretch Works for Chronic Plantar Fasciitis
Physical therapists (PTs) often help patients find ways to stretch as a treatment for chronic soft tissue problems. In this study, a group of PTs from the Center for Foot and Ankle Research at the University of Rochester (New York) report on a fascia-stretching program for chronic plantar fasciitis.
An earlier study by this same group presented the results of 82 patients with chronic plantar fasciitis. Two different treatment methods were used. The first group did a stretch for the Achilles-tendon (calf muscle). The second group did a specific stretch for the plantar fascia.
Results after eight weeks showed greater improvement with the plantar fascia stretch. In phase two of this study, the Achilles stretching group was given the same plantar fascia stretch the other group had in the first study. They did the stretch three times a day, starting first thing in the morning before taking their first steps. The plantar fascia stretching program was done for at least eight weeks.
Now two years later, in this report, the researchers tell about the long-term results for this same group of patients. Pain, function, and satisfaction were measured using a survey mailed to each patient.
At the end of two years, everyone had improved. The Achilles tendon group from the original study improved the most after they were given the plantar fascia stretch. About one-fourth of the patients still reported some limitations in recreational activities. A small number of patients from both groups went on to seek additional treatment.
The authors conclude a specific plantar fascia stretch can be done for plantar fasciitis with good results. This stretch only costs time and can be done any time during the day, especially after long periods of sitting or before long periods of standing.
Benedict F. DiGiovanni, MD, et al. Plantar Fascia-Specific Stretching Exercise Improves Outcomes in Patients with Chronic Plantar Fasciitis. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. August 2006. Vol. 88-A. No. 8. Pp. 1776-1781.