irish dance_ready to feis_understanding irish dancing and plantar fasciitis
Fitness and Conditioning

Irish dancing and plantar fasciitis – what you need to know

When you’re participating in a sport where you jump really high at top speed and beat the ground with your toes repeatedly, injuries are a fact of life. One such common injury is plantar fasciitis – it affects the foot and can be quite painful, particularly if left untreated. That said, treatment can be quite simple and dancers can easily manage it and keep dancing.

What is it?

“Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the tendon of the foot’s plantar fascia muscle as it inserts into the calcaneus (heel bone)”, explains Stephanie Geraghty, Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist at Queen Street Physiotherapy. “This is a common injury that we see on a daily basis, and can be the result of many different factors.” Geraghty goes on to say, “Individuals will often experience a pain at the base of the foot which feels like they are walking on a stone. Pain is often at its worst first thing in the morning, when moving from sit to stand, beginning exercise, or when the person is cold.”

What causes it?

Talking about the causes of this affliction, Geraghty points out, “the most common reason someone would be experiencing plantar fasciitis would be due to the foot falling into an over-pronated position. This is when the foot falls inwards and the arch collapses repeatedly.” Over pronation is fairly common, occurring in over 80% of the population. If you’re experiencing the types of pain described, Geraghty says, “physiotherapists will complete a thorough subjective and objective assessment in order to correctly diagnose the condition and what muscle imbalances or structures need to be addressed in order to relieve the patient of the pain.”

How is it treated?

When it comes to treating and healing plantar fasciitis, “Physiotherapy treatment often consists of deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, ultrasound and at times, dry needling”, says Geraghty. There are definitely ways to treat and manage it at home as well. She explains, “a home based stretch and strengthening exercise programme is always administered with appropriate advice to fit with the stage of injury. Specific exercises and stretches generally include; calf raises, bridging exercises to build strength at the glute and hamstring muscles, and stretches for both the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles which make up the calf complex.” There is also another fun way to relieve pain – rolling the foot on a frozen bottle of water! “Rolling on a bottle of iced water is often advised”, Geraghty reveals, “alongside good footwear, and if need be, orthotics may be indicated or advised.”

Have you had plantar fasciitis? How did you treat it? Do you have any advice you can share? Leave a comment below, or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

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  • disqus_vxl9ie2oJ0

    I have most of the symptoms of plantar fasciitis and my dad has it. It is really annoying at dance practice because I keep having to stop and roll out my foot. It has been really inflamed lately because of constant nationals practice. I have found that it is most painful in softshoe. A frozen water bottle works the best, but when I don’t have one I tend to use a baseball. Tennis balls are okay, but they are not as strong.

    • readytofeis

      Ouch! We feel your pain. If a tennis ball isn’t strong enough perhaps you can try a golf ball – they’re harder so might work a little better, like a baseball. Nothing beats a frozen water bottle though! Good luck for Nationals!

  • My Dad has had Plantar Fasciitis. OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • readytofeis

      It’s definitely not fun! Your poor Dad.

  • Jacinta Keyes-Hanlon

    Kept me from dancing for 2 years. Unfortunately I overpronate, not much I can do about that in ghillies, orthotics don’t work in them.