Ask an Exercise Physiologist: Tight hips and plantar fasciitis | HerCanberra

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Ask an Exercise Physiologist: Tight hips and plantar fasciitis

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We’re here to help. More fabulous questions this week!

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Ask an EP is here to help with all your health and wellness questions and challenges—lifestyle, wellness, pain and health.

Do you have a burning health and wellness question? Now is your chance to ask.

Each week we will pick a couple of questions, and help you solve your query. If we share our problems, we are more likely to solve them.

Let’s get started.

Hi Kirra, any tips to recover from plantar fasciitis?

— Georgie, 30

Hi Georgie,

Plantar fasciitis (PF) can be very debilitating. For those who don’t know what PF is, it‘s inflammation of the tendon that connects the heel bone to the toes.

Like all tendon pain, it can become chronic if a good management plan is not put in place early. Your recovery can vary, depending on how long you have been putting up with it, and how much you do on it every day. I’m assuming you have an allied health practitioner (AHP) to help guide your recovery?

Fear not, with the right advice, PF is VERY treatable, and you won’t need expensive injections or surgery to help fix it.

Here are a few tips from Ads from Accelerate Physiotherapy to help you in your early phase of recovery:

  • After a long day on your feet, try rolling a frozen bottle under your arch—it acts as both a nice stretch and icing can provide pain relief.
  • Strengthen those muscles around your feet! Tip a basket of clothes pegs onto the floor and use your toes to pick them up. Harder than you thought it would be? Keep practising! It is so so important that those muscles in and around your arch get strong to offload the irritated tendon. Find that too easy? Your AHP will be able to progress the exercises to align with your goals!
  • Don’t overdo things! Tendon pain or tendinopathy is a load based issue that often comes on when you do too much after a period of doing not much at all. When starting exercise after a long layoff, it might be a good idea to speak to an experienced AHP about safe ways on how to return to exercise.

Hi Kirra, any tips on how to activate the glutes instead of the quads?

My hips and hammys are quite tight from sitting all day…


Great question. I can hear a massage coming on!

Firstly, let’s address the activation question. Mind muscle connection is what you want to target. When you perform your specific exercises, are you mindful of what’s being activated? I find palpating the glutes is a great way to get the correct muscular activation. Little taps, pulses, or rolling on a hard trigger point ball can help.

Positioning is key. For example—when you’re in a squat position, make sure you have the correct hip-knee-heel alignment (depending on what you want out of the movement).

Focusing on short sharp specific movements before you perform the bigger movement pattern can help too. The movement needs to be dynamic, fast and simple to get the correct firing pattern (but still controlled—sounds like a juggling act!).

Everyone is different, so this method may not work for you, but I personally find it very helpful for my patients.

Now, let’s address your hip and hamstring stiffness. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Schedule rest days—so your body has recovery time.
  • Have scheduled breaks at work for a stretch (walk at lunch?)
  • Self-management massage tools (foam rolls, trigger point balls, Theragun etc)
  • Book a regular massage, have a warm spa or shower, or swim in a warm pool—all these strategies will help your connective tissue/fascia.

Here are my three favourite dynamic hip/hammy stretches (to help with all your sitting)—you can print the PDF here.

  • Pretzel
  • Dynamic hamstring stretch
  • Standing twist

I’ll have a two-minute demonstration IGTV clip for you dropping into Instagram later this week.

Great questions everyone. I’ll answer more next week!

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The information provided by Ask an Exercise Physiologist is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice.

HerCanberra advises our community to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if they’re seeking more specific medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.

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