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Running Injury: Plantar Fasciitis the Advantages of Night Splints

by Jane Hodgson 4 March 2011


Summary:

Plantar fasciitis is the most common running injury affecting the foot. Research shows that night slints can help reduce the symptoms of plantar fasciits especially iin people who have had heel pain for some months.

Plantar Fasciitis is a common  foot injury, the main symptom of which is pain under the heel of the foot. Experienced by many impact sport players, plantar fasciitis is a particular problem for middle to long distance runners, most studies agree that it is the most common foot injury in runners, many statistics suggesting that at some point it will affect around 8% of all regular participants.

Plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury, the main symptom of which is pain deep within the pad of the heel this is often experienced at its worst on the first few steps in the morning or after rest, and causes pain on impact of the foot to the floor such as when running.

Various treatments have been suggested including: orthotics, ultrasound therapy, shock wave therapy, calf stretches, night splints and eccentric exercises.

The Evidence for Night Splints to Treat Plantar Fasciitis Running Injury

The plantar fascia is a thick band of fibers that go from the heel of the foot across the sole of the foot to the toes. Plantar fasciitis is considered to be an inflammatory process following micro tears in the fascia. The reason why this causes so much pain especially on the first few steps each morning, is that during the night the foot is relaxed and the foot drops so the toes are pointed downwards. In this position the plantar faschia is relaxed, healing of the micro tears occurs overnight, but when the foot is put to the floor in the morning the faschia has to stretch to a longer position and this tears the new healing. The idea of a night splint is that the foot is held overnight with the toes pulled upwards and thus the healing occurs with the fascia in its stretched position.

Many research studies have looked at night splints and the treatment of plantar fasciitis. There have been some mixed results, however on the whole the body of evidence suggests that night splints can help ease pain and assist healing,  this is especially true for people who have been suffering from plantar fasciitis for several months or more.

Night splints do generally have to be used consistently for at least one month or more before significant improvement is seen.

Purchasing Night Splints to Treat Plantar Fasciitis

A night splint to treat plantar fasciitis is relatively inexpensive, generally costing around £30.

Night splints are available online at physioroom

Combing a night splint with a programme of stretches and eccentric exercises will produce the best results.

 


Disclaimer: The information on this page is written to help you understand your injury. There are several possible causes for heel pain and should you have any concerns you should always seek advice from a qualified health professional such as a Chartered Physiotherapist or your GP.

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About the author

Jane Hodgson - Chartered Physiotherapist Jane Hodgson Jane specialises in lower body injuries and has raced competitively in running, orienteering and adventure racing.

Did you know

The plantar fascia is a thick band of fibre that makes up the sole of the foot


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