A very common injury that soccer players get, usually early on in the preseason, is plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a bundle of muscles that run under the foot. Remembering that muscles attach to bones via tendons at either end of the muscle belly, one attachment of the plantar fascia is on the inside of the heel and the other attachment is at the metatarsal heads. The tendons are an extension of the Achilles tendon/ gastrocnemius/soleus group of muscles.
Why do players get this?
Players that have very tight calf muscles are prone to have a tight plantar fascia.
Those players that have a high arch or a fallen arch/flat feet, overweight and/or pregnant are also primary candidates to experience this injury. Playing on hard surfaces such as turf fields makes a player susceptible to this injury.
What are the SYMPTOMS?
Primarily, pain is extreme when the player wakes up in the morning and puts their foot on the floor. The inside of the heel will be very painful. Also, any type of running will aggravate the condition.
What is the treatment?
What has proved successful is a combination of the following:
- Getting orthotics. Start with over the counter and proceed to custom made ones.
- Getting on a stretching program for the plantar fascia and the calf muscles.
- Electrical muscle stimulation in an attempt to increase the blood flow to the tendon attachment.
- Infra-red laser in an attempt to increase the blood flow to the tendon attachment.
- Low dye tape job (this is the most beneficial during the acute phase because it allows the player to do most of their activities of daily living.