Dealing with Plantar Fasciitis | By Scott Schwartz, Owner and Therapist of Psoas Massage + Bodywork Our feet. We use them to walk, run, pedal and even pop & lock (for all you phresh dancers out there). And with all we put our feet through daily, be it hardcore workouts or hardcore high heels, they can seize up on us to a point where even the simple task of walking becomes a problem. And for those of you who do more than walk (personally, I prefer to Fox Trot around), foot pain can be as annoying as it is debilitating.
Well fear not, my fantastically footed friends! Scott Schwartz has a few words of wisdom about the menacing antics of the ultimate foot foe, plantar fasciitis.
Happy Feet, Everyone!
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Have you ever had foot pain? It comes in many varieties - stabbing, deep, cramping, burning. Much of it goes away on its own, and sometimes it only occurs after a long day on your feet or after miles of running. Some foot pain is normal. When it sticks around? Well, then it's not normal and more often than not you'll find that you have a little something called Plantar Fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis (pronounced like "PLAN-tar fashee-EYE-tiss," we will call it PF for short) is a common ailment of the plantar surface (bottom) of the foot. The most common symptom is pain near the heel, felt when you first wake up. If you wake up in the morning with pain near your heel on a regular basis - the chances are pretty good you've got it. The pain will usually go away or lessen significantly within a minute or two. Pain may also be felt along the bottom of the foot from your heel to the base of your toes.
Causes Of Plantar Fasciitis
PF is an inflammatory disorder due to overuse - running, jumping, standing - and wearing shoes that either don't fit properly and/or don't provide proper support or cushioning. The Plantar Fascia (a thick fibrous band running from heel to toes) and other deep structures of the foot create an arch along the sole from heel to base of the toes, which acts as a shock absorber. Continuous pounding on the foot's sole, or for some people even simply standing for long periods of time can cause micro-tears in the fascia. The accumulation of tears causes the fascia to stay tight and pull on the Calcaneus (heel bone) to create the PF pain. Without treatment and proper care, the tightness of the Plantar Fascia could pull a small piece of bone off of the heel resulting in a bone spur, which can be extremely painful and very difficult to treat.
Athletes are very prone to this condition, especially if the sport includes running, jumping, and quick stops and starts. Do you take part in any of the following sports on a regular basis?
- Distance running and triathlons
- Ultimate Frisbee
It's disconcerting to see that after a basic Web search for PF treatment, I found many websites provide treatment options - from Advil to surgery - with very few references to the use of massage techniques.
Every well-trained massage therapist we know treats PF and the Psoas staff is bombarded with cases. We probably see well over 100 a year and maybe 2-3 new PF cases a week.
No matter what Google might dig up, PF is highly treatable with orthopedic bodywork techniques such as Myofascial Release, Clinical Deep Tissue Massage, Active Release Techniques (ART) and multidirectional friction. Treatment is not very difficult - we loosen the calf muscles and the plantar fascia, work deeper through and around the fascia to the intrinsic muscles, stretch you and provide self-treatment tools and stretches for homework. Our success rate is very high for PF treatment. Usually a combination of treatments works best. We like bodywork, rest and stretching, and we suggest you use home tools such as a rolling your foot over a golf or tennis ball, a rolling pin or frozen water bottle. Anti-inflammatory medication also helps (please consult your doctor).
First, if you start to feel any pain on the bottom of your feet, get them checked by a Psoas therapist as soon as you can. If we catch this disorder early the treatment is usually significantly shorter. Preventing PF requires two things: keeping the Plantar Fascia lengthened and loose, and keeping the calf muscles flexible and free of adhesions and trigger points. Regular bodywork helps towards these ends, and there are many things you can do on your own such as:
- Wear properly supportive shoes or more flexible shoes
- Stretch the calf muscles regularly and correctly
- Stretch the plantar surface of the foot regularly
- Roll the foot on a ball or frozen water bottle
- Strengthen the muscles in the front of the lower leg
- Sleep with pillow under knees while face up
- Sleep with feet off the bottom of the bed when face down
If you are prone to PF, have had it before or are beginning to feel some pain in your feet - then bodywork can be extremely beneficial, and we believe that Psoas can help you.