A common expat achilles heel – Plantar Fasciitis

A health problem that has struck Kathy Chamberlain and indeed many expats ‘of a certain age’ soon after their arrival in Singapore is the very painful and inconvenient condition of Plantar Fasciitis (pronounced fash-ee-eye-tus). 

Apparently striking more women than men, often it is upon the sufferer before they know what or why it has struck. Symptoms occur in the form of painful heels particularly on rising from bed in the morning or after sitting for a period of time and is actually caused by an inflammation of the plantar fascia, or the band of muscle under the foot. This muscle band may have small tears and inflammation from recurrent strain, causing pain and swelling in the foot. It can occur in one or both feet and is often accompanied by tight achilles.

Plantar Fasciitis is most commonly seen in people who make poor choices of footwear for a length of time. In the case of many expats it can occur because the muscles in our feet and ankles are unused to spending so much time on hard ( though deliciously cool ) tiled surfaces either bare foot, wearing thin soles ( flip flops, sandals) or any unsupportive footwear. It can also occur in people who have a short calf musculature or a poor ankle range of motion.

Once the condition exists, it can last for an average of 6 weeks and can recur. So it pays to look after our feet!

Prevention is always best, so be mindful of spending time barefoot on hard floors and wearing unsupportive shoes like flip flops.

Treatment and relief options include rest, applying ice to the foot, stretching the calves and massage. Ibuprofen may be used to ease the inflammation but of course won’t treat the actual issue. Stretching the arch of the foot first thing in the morning by bending back the toes, applying ice by rolling a small frozen drink bottle underfoot and massage using a tennis ball on carpet are particularly helpful. Lastly be kind to your feet and try to lose any excess weight.

Specific advice can be sought from a doctor or podiatrist.