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High-load strength training improves outcome in patients with plantar fasciitis: A randomized controlled trial with 12-month follow-up.

This week’s article investigates a randomised control trial that focuses on examining if high-load strength training can help to improve the outcomes of patients with plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia is a band of tissue running along in sole of the foot, and helps stabilize the foot’s arch under loads when walking, running, hopping, etc. Plantar fasciopathy (also known as plantar fasciitis) often manifests as heel or lower foot pain, especially when rising from bed in the morning. This pain normally improves throughout the day with movement.

Interventions such as stretching and orthotics are commonly used to treat this condition, but some individuals can still experience pain for up to 2 years following onset.

This study compared a plantar fascia stretching program to a high-load strengthening exercise program for the plantar fascia, with follow-up at 3, 6 and 12 month periods for those undertaking the study.

Compared to the stretching group, patients in the strengthening group had significantly improved pain and function by 3 months, when performing strengthening exercises (similar to those pictured) every second day, with weight/load progressions as necessary.

Therefore, it can be argued that high-load strength-based training is more effective in short term pain improvements than a stretching program, in the treatment of plantar fasciitis and plantar fascia pain.

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