Strength training for plantar fasciitis and foot muscles
Plantar fasciitis continues to be a challenge to treat, due to a lack of evidence based interventions. Based on the link between weak intrinsic foot muscles and foot pathologies, this systematic review evaluated interventions for intrinsic foot musculature strength training and plantar fasciitis.
With limited standardised outcome measures and poor external validity, the authors were unable to identify the extent to which foot intrinsic strengthening interventions may benefit populations symptomatic or at risk for plantar fasciitis. However, this study showed that changes in a variety of outcomes were possible with foot intrinsic strength training in asymptomatic individuals, as well as promising results for progressive loading based strengthening exercise in the treatment of plantar fasciitis.
In asymptomatic adults, short foot and resisted toe flexor exercises contributed to improved intrinsic foot musculature as well as minimalist running shoe use, which showed foot intrinsic muscle hypertrophy. In the only study that examined a population with plantar fasciitis, a progressive heel raise loading program was performed. A faster reduction of pain and improvements in function was indicated compared to stretching, despite an absence of changes in plantar fascia thickness.
To improve our clinical results this study indicates the need for further research investigating strength training for foot intrinsic strength and treatment of plantar fasciitis using consistent pain, function and strength outcome measures.
> From: Huffer et al., Phys Ther Sport 24 (2017) 44-52. All rights reserved to Elsevier Ltd. Click here for the online summary.