Plantar Fasciitis 101
Updated: May 9, 2019
What is Plantar Fascia?
The spring in our step
Plantar Fasciitis is inflammation and repetitive micro-injury to a thick band of elastic tissue located at the bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia is important in the distribution of force through the foot when walking, running, jumping and landing.
The Keys to Recovery
Reduce inflammation, restore tissue elasticity, and restore biomechanics
Initially there was an event that started the process of inflammation, poor healing, and subsequent repetitive injury. It could have been an acute injury such as stepping off a curb wrong or it could have be an chronic injury wear strain was put on the healthy tissue and overtime broke it down such as jobs that require constant standing on concrete. Either way once the process starts there are three components that need to be addressed to allow the plantar fascia to heal properly and prevent re-occurrence.
One of the risk factors of Plantar Fasciitis is increase Systemic Inflammation.
This can be caused by diet, disease such as type to diabetes or auto-immune conditions such as Lupus. To reduce systemic inflammation even if disease is a contributing factor is through diet. Reducing Sugar, Simple Carbohydrates, adding foods high in antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids can help reduce the inflammation resulting pain. By reducing the inflammation you are helping the tissue heal properly, because too much inflammation can cause increase production of scar tissue that lacks the elastic quality of healthy tissues. Other options for reducing the local inflammation is using kensiotape. Kensio-tape encourages lymphatic drainage and circulation to the area and naturally reduces local inflammation. Rotating between cool and warm compresses also encourages circulation and reduction of inflammation.
Restoring tissue elasticity is the next important step in addressing Plantar Fasciitis. Due to the increased inflammatory response it is likely that the plantar fascia has healed poorly forming "scar tissue " or fibrotic tissue in the areas or repetitive injury. Much like a scar forming over a cut knuckle. If you continue to re-open a cut by week after week a scar is more likely to form. To address this you can help your body reduce the scar formation and increase cellar turn over. It may sound counter productive by adding gentle stretched to strain the healing tissue is necessary to trigger the body to build more elastic tissue instead of fibrotic tissues.
Massaging the foot at home is a great way to encourage proper healing. Using things like golf balls, tennis balls, Chinese foot rollers, ect. to "roll-out" the bottom of the foot can be uncomfortable during the activity as fibrotic tissue is strained and pushed to form more elastic tissue, but after there is generally a reduction in pain. Doing this daily will help correct the loss of tissue elasticity allowing the foot to move properly. Also getting soft tissue work, instrument assisted soft tissue work, and acupuncture can be used as well especially if you are having trouble with working the area at home.
Moving properly and correcting muscle imbalances is key to breaking the micro-injury cycle of Plantar Fasciitis. Gait is an other contributing factor of plantar fasciitis having overly flat feet or stiff high arches both can put people at a higher risk, as well as overly tight calves reducing dorsi-flexion, there are many ways the gait can change which leads to added strain somewhere along the kinetic chain. In the case of plantar fasciitis the plantar fascia is the focus of the increase strain, but gait alterations can cause back, hip, and knee pain as well. Addressing gait and muscle imbalances will help prevent further irritation. Some times this requires orthotics, home exercises, physical therapy, chiropractic care, or a consultation with a podiatrist.
Here are some home-care tips to reduce plantar fasciitis pain and symptoms:
Calf stretches :
Gastroc stretch: Straight back leg
Soleus stretch: Bent back leg
push the heel of the back leg down as you lean forward into the stretch. hold for 30 seconds relax and repeat up to 5 times.
1)With a slightly bent knee use a towel to pull the foot back.
2) press into the towel like a gas pedal for 30 seconds.
3) relax the foot and pull the towel back repeat 5 times to gentle stretch the calves and foot. by pulling the towel in slightly different directions you can effect different muscle and tendon fibers. You can do this multiple time during the day.
Foot Rolling Option:
Do not put full weight on the golf ball theses exercises are to be done seated and to pain tolerance.
Example of using a golf ball to target areas of discomfort.
while rolling out the foot you may feel "gritty" or "popping" these sensations this is most common in areas with more fibrotic tissue build up and are often areas that are tender. Take your time with rolling theses areas out and targeting them. Due this for no more than 5 minutes at a time up to 3 times daily.
Using a tennis ball at first may be more comfortable until there is more elasticity in the tissues. Bother are great options for stretching and breaking down fibrotic tissue in the plantar fascia.
Example of kensio-taping option:
*remember to follow the direction indicated on the box or with the tape for application.
* Improper use will cause skin irritation and even blistering.
Follow Rocktape's application video