Plantar Fasciitis: When a Pain in the Foot Slows You Down
Here in northern California and especially the greater Sacramento area, we have some of the most beautiful places to run, walk, and bike, with dedicated trails and bridges to make all of it a theme park of outdoor experiences. But if you have foot pain, your motivation to use all this beauty may be curbed by a nagging repetitive strain injury called “plantar fasciitis.”
Often referred to as “jogger’s heel,” plantar fasciitis can threaten almost every physical activity you take on. It is estimated that more than two million Americans suffer from this bothersome and sometimes chronic injury — including anyone who stands for a living on hard surfaces (retail salespeople, airport ticket agents, hotel clerks, restaurant workers, etc.).
Plantar fasciitis is defined by experts as an overuse injury caused by over-stretching of the plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue and tendon located on the underside of the foot. Not the same as heel spurs or flat feet, this condition usually includes morning foot pain noticed when taking those first steps when getting out of bed or after sitting for a while and then standing. Walking can sometimes ease the pain, but age or overweight can enter into the equation, along with the effect of some types of exercises and activities that place a significant stress on the heel. Wearing hard-soled shoes can also usher its return. If left untreated, PF can affect the way you walk as well, causing foot, hip, and even back problems.
Ice, compression, rest, and anti-inflammatory meds can keep PF pain at bay. Proper-fitting shoes are critical as well, sometimes requiring special orthotics being made to insert into each pair. Steroid injections are considered for extreme cases, but there are definitely therapies that can be instituted to keep the pain at bay.
Stretching exercises to lengthen the plantar fascia and calf muscles are definitely in order, done 3-5 times per day, held for up to 30 seconds at a time. These are done by pulling the foot and toes upward to feel the stretch in the arch of the foot and calf muscles. Some yoga routines include a certain amount of natural stretching to these areas as well, especially yin yoga, where poses are held for longer periods of time.
I often deal with this condition in my massage practice, since massage can deal with the root of the problem. It’s my goal to loosen muscle tissue, remove toxins and increase circulation of blood and oxygen to the area as I knead the affected area. Deep tissue massage physically breaks down adhesions that are caused by overexertion and strain, so ligaments and muscles begin to relax, promoting healing and the avoidance of pain reoccurrence. After a series of these sessions, in between visits my clients often use a cylindrical or rounded object such as a rubber ball or bottle to roll under the foot while seated.
If you suffer from chronic foot pain, please make a special note to tell me about it before I begin your massage session so that I can take special care as well as a longer period of time to deal with it. My goal is for you to leave my massage table refreshed and pain-free or pain-lessened from this nagging foot condition.
Located at 312 Natoma St. Ste.#110, Folsom, CA 95630