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Plantar Fasciitis – What It Is and How To Treat It

November 1, 2010

Originally, this week’s post was going to present the second of four low back exercises.  Slight change of plans.  The reason is that I’ve been seeing more feet lately here in Guelph and I thought it would be a good idea to address the common condition of plantar fasciitis.  (Don’t worry, I’ll be back next week with another core exercise.  This week will give you extra time to practice the first one.)

If you’ve been walking around Guelph with sore feet, then you may have a condition called plantar fasciitis.  It can feel like a tightness, burning or aching on the bottom of your foot especially when taking those first few steps out of bed in the morning.  Common causes/predisposing factors can include: tightness of the foot and calf, weakness in the foot muscles, very low or very high arches, improper training (too much, too soon) or poor footwear.

The plantar fascia is a thickened muscle fibre which runs along the base of your foot.  It functions to provide both arch support and shock absorption.  But when exposed to some of those predisposing factors, the plantar fascia can react by becoming inflamed, thicker, and more tight which, in turn, leads to the pain.

Why does it often feel worse in the morning?  When you lie down in bed two things happen.  The first is that you remove the weight on your feet which normally stretches the plantar fascia throughout the day.  This shortens the plantar fascia and tightens it up.  The other factor has to do with how most of us sleep:  with our toes somewhat pointed down under the covers, which further shortens the plantar fascia.  When you take those first steps in the morning your body weight very quickly stretches out the fascia which is still inflamed from the previous day and you’re left with “ouch!”

Treatment for plantar fasciitis can involve both in-clinic and self directed components.

In-clinic Treatment:

  • Myofascial release therapy – this involves manually applying tension and pressure to the plantar fascia while stretching it at the same time.  This helps to loosen up the tight fascial fibres.
  • Microcurrent – this involves placing small pads on the base of the foot and running a small amount of electric current through the fascia.  This helps to reduce the chronic inflammation and promotes healing.
  • Custom Orthotics – Sometimes your feet need support.  Orthotics are insoles for your shoes and help by correcting faulty foot mechanics.

Self Directed Treatment:

  • Rest – Stop running around so much and give your feet a break.  It won’t be forever, but long enough for them to recuperate.
  • Ice – Applying a cold compress to the bottom of your feet can decrease pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Stretch – Keep your calf muscles limber by stretching them out frequently throughout the day.  You can also gently role the bottom of your foot over a soup can to help loosen up the fascia.
  • Strengthen – If the muscles in the arch of your foot are weak then there’s extra stress placed on the plantar fascia.  A simple exercise to strengthen the muscles of the foot is toe curls:  with a towel laid out before your bare feet, use your toes to grab and pull the towel towards you.

Plantar fasciitis can be painful and frustrating.  But it can also be managed effectively with a little knowledge and a little help.  If you’re in Guelph and would like more information about getting help with your plantar fasciitis contact Guelph Chiropractors at Clear Path Chiropractic Health Centre.

*Image adapted from health.com

From → Foot Pain

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