Previous studies have reported that stretching of the calf musculature and the plantar fascia are effective management strategies for plantar heel pain (PHP). Although, it is not clear whether myofascial release (MFR) can improve the outcomes in this population. The aim of this study was to investigate whether myofascial release (MFR) lowers the pain and functional disability associated with plantar heel pain (PHP) in comparison with a control group receiving sham ultrasound therapy (SUST). A randomized, controlled, double blinded trial was conducted at a nonprofit research foundation clinic in India. Sixty-six patients, 17 men and 49 women with a clinical diagnosis of PHP were randomly assigned into MFR or a control group and given 12 sessions of treatment per client over 4 weeks. The Foot Function Index (FFI) scale was used to assess pain severity and functional disability. The primary outcome measure was the difference in FFI scale scores between week 1 (pretest score), week 4 (posttest score), and follow-up at week 12 after randomization. Additionally, pressure pain thresholds (PPT) were assessed over the affected gastrocnemii and soleus muscles, and over the calcaneus, by an assessor blinded to the treatment allocation. The simple main effects analysis showed that the MFR group performed better than the control group in weeks 4 and 12 (P<0.001). Patients in the MFR and control groups reported a 72.4% and 7.4% reduction, respectively, in their pain and functional disability in week 4 compared with that in week 1, which persisted as 60.6% in the follow-up at week 12 in the MFR group compared to the baseline. The mixed ANOVA also showed significant group-by-time interactions for changes in PPT over the gastrocnemii and soleus muscles, and the calcaneus (P<0.05).
This study offers evidence that MFR is more beneficial than a control intervention for PHP.