Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hands-on Physical Therapy and Stretching Prove Effective for Treating Heel Pain

The most common type of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. You may have this dysfunction if you have a sharp pain in your heel with your first few steps in the morning. The pain is usually worst when first standing up after sitting or resting and symptoms often decrease as you walk around. It is estimated that 2 million Americans acquire heel pain each year and that 10% of all people will have heel pain at one point of their life.(1) Luckily, for the masses of people who suffer from these symptoms, there is new research from the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy that just came out in February of 2011.

What did the study show us?

The study took 60 participants with heel pain and split them into two groups. One group did a couple of calf and foot stretches while the other group performed the stretches but also had hands-on manual physical therapy. The manual therapy mainly consisted of hands on techniques to decrease the amount to trigger points or “knots” in the calf and foot. The researchers found better improvements in pain and function in those who were in the manual therapy and exercise group. This suggests that treatment from a licensed physical therapist along with self stretching is more beneficial that stretching alone when it comes to decreasing heel pain.

My Advice

If you have heel pain, a physical therapist can instruct you on the proper stretching techniques to perform. The physical therapist can also determine if you are a candidate for trigger point soft tissue techniques (like the ones used in this study) or other manual therapy procedures. For more information on the management of heel pain, contact your physical therapist at Hayashida and Associates Physical Therapy.

Reference: J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2011;41(2):51. doi:10.2519/jospt.2011.0501

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