Hello boys and girls. It’s Damon Rouse story time again! This week, he discusses a truly painful and annoying foot ailment: plantar fasciitis (fash-ee-I-tis). Take it away, boss!
Ever notice how when you ask your kid to clean their room they just throw everything into one big bin and call it done?
I think this is often what happens with the Plantar Fasciitis diagnosis – pain in the heel? Plantar Fasciitis. Pain in the arch? Plantar Fasciitis. Pain in the ball of foot? Plantar Fasciitis.
Well, not so fast. Lots of muscles and different tissues in the foot can mimic this very painful ailment, but accurate diagnosis of both the irritated / inflammed tissue AND the cause of the irritated / inflammed tissue is of utmost importance.
The two most common causes of plantar fasciitis are:
1. A tight calf.
The calf is active almost all day long, in almost all weight bearing movements: standing, walking, running, even sitting (ever noticed your heel bouncing when you’re nervous?). As a result, it can get tight. And when it does, weight bearing stresses are transferred to the foot.
Try a classic runner’s stretch with the foot behind you & the heel down. Or, try standing with ball of your foot on the edge of a step, and letting the heel drop. Downward dog is also an excellent way to stretch the calves. In all these stretches, hold for at least 30 seconds, and keep the toes pointing straight ahead.
2. Rapid increase in stress to the arch-supporting ligaments of the foot.
Say what boss? In lay terms: there are several long ligaments that run the length of your foot, from heel to toe. This is why PF sometimes manifests as heel pain. These ligaments support your arches, which is why flat-footed folks are more susceptible to Plantar Fasciitis (less support). Rapid weight gain (e.g. pregnancy, medications that cause water retention) or sharp increases in weight bearing exercises (hiking, running, jumping) can over stress these ligaments. Drastic shoe changes, like going from a very supportive shoe to a minimalist one, can also create a rapid increase in the forces put on the foot.
Solution: reduce inflammation and the stressors on the foot tissue that caused Plantar Fasciitis in the first place.
This may include focused stretching, tissue massage, and/or ongoing anti-inflammatory treatments. Physical therapists or massage therapists with experience in foot and ankle ailments can help. Personal trainers can guide your exercise program to alleviate your symptoms and prevent recurrence.
The good news is, Plantar Fasciitis is treatable, and with the right approach, patients often make a full recovery.
If you suffer from Plantar Fasciitis, or have a sharp pain in your arch or heel, schedule a 15-minute consultation with Damon at the front desk, or ask a trainer about it.