Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Plantar Fasciitis can strike anyone whether you’re active or sedentary, young or old, in the best shape of your life or the worst, and it can be relentless. Plantar Fasciitis is an injury that classically feels like a badly bruised heel or pain just in front of the heel, but can also be felt as a strain in the arch or a pull just behind the ball of the foot. The pain is usually worse in the morning when you take those first couple of steps out of bed or after you’ve been on your feet for an extended period of time. The pain is made worse by running and walking fast, especially when they require quick starts, speedwork, jumping, or hills.
What are the traditional treatments? Ice, stretch, rest, orthotics, heel lifts, heel cushions, massage, Ibuprofen, and rolling your foot on a ball or frozen can. How many of these treatments have you tried? How many times has your Plantar Fasciitis come back? How many years have you had it while trying these very things? Well I’m here to tell you that many of these things are the EXACT OPPOSITE of what really gets rid of Plantar Fasciitis for good and/or improves it a lot sooner. Why? Because what causes Plantar Fasciitis is the plantar tendons that run from the ball of the foot, underneath the arch, connect to the front of the heel, the fascia runs under the heel and around to where it connects to the Achilles tendon and when the arch gets stressed from overload (excess weight, workouts, standing on feet lengthy amounts of time, age, change, pregnancy, wrong shoes, etc…) it can start to get weaker and fall. Tendons are not meant to have much stretch, and the tendons in the arch are mainly our shock absorbers that stretch just enough to buffer each foot landing so when they are asked to stretch more than that they start to pull apart causing micro tears in the tissue. These micro tears are what you feel as a heal bruise or soreness in the foot or arch. Plantar Fasciitis is not caused by impact and that’s important to know in understanding the healing process. Heel cushions don’t help it heal nor does raising the heal with heel lifts, they only take the stress off and heal the tendons in a shortened position making them more susceptible to other problems.
The plantar tendons are made up of white tendons (low blood supply), whereas other areas of the body have red tendons (high blood supply) so icing and Ibuprofen will only take more blood supply away from the area and make it slower to heal. Massage and rolling the foot on a ball relaxes the tendons into a lengthened position and allow the arch to further fall and tear. Orthotics are an option that helps some people as long as their fitted in a manner that keeps the whole body aligned not just bracing the feet.
What REALLY helps heel Plantar Fasciitis?
#1 The most important thing is to strengthen the arch so it comes back up into the proper position. Use a sock or a golf ball (if you have longer toes) and sit with your legs bent at a 90 degree angle. Pick up the sock with all five toes curled around it and hold two to three inches high for a slow count of three. Set down and repeat. Do at least 25 reps on each foot (always do both feet). The more you do the faster you will heal.
#2 Wear a Strasburg Sock at night, this will help the tissues heal in the lengthened position and stop the cycle of tearing the fascia when you step on the floor each morning. Otherwise, you heal in a shortened, relaxed position and have to start over with the healing process each morning.
#3 Soak in a really warm Epsom Salt bath for 20 minutes each night. This will take away the excess swelling without taking away the blood supply that you need to heal the tissues.
#4 Cross-train. Exercise brings blood flow and helps heal injuries and using a stationary bike gives the plantar fascia a break.