Are you involved in a sport in which your foot strength is essential for performance? Does you job require you to be on your feet for long hours? If so, you may have experienced a condition known as Plantar Fasciitis- a painful inflammatory process of the Plantar Fascia tissue.
The Plantar Fascia is the connecting tissue that stretches from the heal bone to the ball of your foot, forming the main arch. Some people describe the pain of Plantar Fasciitis like having a rock inside their shoe, while others say that they experience stabbing, unbearable pain with every step. If you have ever had this condition, you are familiar with that discomfort on the bottom of your foot.
How does it happen?
There are several causes of Plantar Fasciitis. It’s commonly the result of repetitive impact activities among athletes and people who work on their feet for long periods of time. Think about it: gymnasts, martial artists, dancers, and any athletes in a running sport can easily injure the Plantar Fascia tissue. Repetitive impact and overuse of this part of the foot causes tears in the tissue, which results in inflammation and irritation. If one does not attend to the first signs of inflammation by reducing the activities and correcting the bio-mechanics, the pain and discomfort will increase for most people.
Changing from one activity to another without proper adaptation also causes the plantar fascia to become irritated. For example, take a swimmer who begins a running program. If they begin to run too long of a distance too soon, they could very likely develop Plantar Fasciitis.
This is because a swimmer’s foot is accustomed to working in a certain position. Swimming requires the Plantar Fascia to be shortened, while running requires lengthening of the Plantar Fascia, plus a repetitive impact that the foot is not used to.
Switching from a very low impact activity or sport to high impact activity without the proper conditioning will inevitably result in negative side-effects. When the heel strikes the ground, an unconditioned Plantar Fascia suffers inflammation and micro-tears that must heal with rest coupled with proper nutrition to support the building of stronger connective tissue.
A case that is frequently associated, and sometimes confused with Plantar Fasciitis is called a “heel spur”. Heel spurs are a calcium buildup that grow into a smooth, pointed formation on the underside of the Calcaneus (heel bone). They form when the body detects an injury (like Plantar Faciitis) and, in attempt to repair itself by growing extra bone. The spurs range in size and can cause growing discomfort with every step as your body weight presses the bone spur into the soft tissue under your foot. Heel spurs are often caused by Plantar Fasciitis and common among athletes whose activities include a lot of running and jumping. About 70% of people who complain about an inflamed Plantar Fascia also suffer from heel spurs.
How can I correct plantar fasciitis?
RICE. Rest, ice, compress, and elevate! This will help remove pressure from the injured area by reducing inflammation and preventing further strain due to activity.
The following can also help with healing your Plantar Fasciitis:
- Night splints
- Friction massage
- Stretching sequences
- Change shoes
- Find good orthotic shoe inserts
- Kinesio Taping
Through experience, I have realized the importance of the indispensable relationship between the ankle, knee and hip joints. If any of these joints are out of alignment when the heel strikes the ground, sheer force is put on the Calcaneus due to mechanical deficiencies. This causes the fibers of the plantar fascia to be torn and become inflamed.
Lately, I have witnessed many athletes lifting heavy loads while executing a squat or deadlift who complain of plantar fasciitis. The reason for this happening is that their core is untrained. Although you may think that the relationship between the two is completely unrelated, nothing could be further from the truth. As I have mentioned in the past two newsletters, addressing core strength supports correction and often directly corrects all other issues. The instability of the midsection causes unstable hips which causes the feet to lose their arches, putting tremendous force on the plantar fascia. If you perform a squat on an exercise mat, you’ll be able to observe exactly how your foot is moving and why you could be suffering from Plantar Fascia.
In addition to proper movement, icing the inflamed area is an important step in treating a strained Plantar Fascia.
The way that we must approach this condition is to find out the root of the problem. These are some ways to do just that:
- Note the flexibility of the toes, ankle, knee, hip, and pelvis joints. Professionals often make the mistake of only observing the area of the body where the pain is. Many times, restriction on one side of your body causes you to use one foot as much as 25% more than the other.
- We must remember that the mechanical activity of muscle contraction is always coupled with joint movement and the extension of the opposite muscle. If the muscle opposite the injured area- in this case the top of the foot- is constantly in a contracted position, the Plantar Fascia tissue will be in an extended stretching state. This will make it very difficult to heal. Try stretching the muscle opposite the strained area. Extending the shin muscles and contracting the Plantar Fascia into a relaxed position is a great way to help correct the problem.
- Get a professional sports massage. A session of transverse friction massage on the tissue in need of treatment will be of great benefit to speed up the healing process.
- Talk to a health practitioner regarding possible need of nutritional supplementation. Your present food intake may not have the proper nutrients to provide a healing force. When the proper supplements are taken, your body will deliver the nutrition to where it’s needed most; usually an injured or deficient area.
These are some of the supplements that we use to help support this kind of structural healing:
- Organic Minerals: bone support
- Complex Vitamin C: collagen support
- Calcium and magnesium: muscle support
- Ligament complex: ligament healing support
I trust that you gained some useful info, whether you have suffered from Plantar Fasciitis, or just picked up useful tips on how to prevent it! As always, please don’t ever hesitate to contact us with any questions!
“Keep on moving”
Luis Ponce Sr.