Updated: Jan 24
Pain along the base of the foot that prevents you from walking and doing the activities you love to pursue, just sucks! I suffered with plantar fasciitis on two separate occasions, both of which were caused by poor fitting footwear. Once I changed out my footwear, the problem went away. Often, though a lot of people aren't this lucky and they suffer for weeks, months and years.
Let's take a look this week at the anatomy of the plantar fascia and a simple, at-home, self-massage solution.
Anatomy of the Plantar Fascia The soft-tissues of the plantar surface (base) of the foot form 4-layers from deep to superficial. The plantar fascia is the most superficial layer and interwines with the Achilles tendon, calf, hamstring, scaitic nerve, sacro-tuberous ligament, erector spinae and upwards to the epicranial fascia of the skull.
Bottom line - a sore foot can be causing your headache, or vice versa!
Other than this incredible web of connectivity between the foot and head, the plantar fascia's primary job at the foot is to help create structural integrity to the medial (inside) arch of the foot.
With any repetitive demand on the plantar fascia, due to it's attachment to the heel bone periosteum (a plastic-like wrap covering for the bone), it can be tugging on this wrap and create a 'tent' between this wrap and the bone. This tent creates a vacuum space within which the surrounding osteoblasts (bone builders) can create a bone spur on the heel.
Ouch! So why does your foot hurt so much with plantar fasciitis?
Inflammation and irritation to the fascia and it's deeper muscular layers are the primary triggers for the pain you are experiencing in your foot. However, as I've talked about in previous weeks, unless you've experienced a trauma, most injuries arise through a slow-motion mechanism. The more postural debt accumulated over an extended length of time leads to physical imbalances that can result in symptoms and pain. Symptoms are your body's method of nudging you back toward optimal health. Pain and dis-ease are your body's last resorts of communication to help knock you back toward health, happiness and vitality. Listen to your body!
3-Step Solution to Plantar Fascia Relief
Step 1: R.I.C.E. I read this recently in Thomas Mayers great book Anatomy Trains that '...our feet stay locked up in leather coffins all day.' Liberate your feet and give them adequate rest to ensure your body can heal itself. You have the world's greatest and natural pharmacy on hand (or should I say foot?) - let it do it's job!
Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. It's been taught for years in first aid programs all over the world. I'm a big advocate of this treatment approach. I just take two extra steps.
Firstly, I recommend to immerse the foot in ankle-to-calf deep, icy, cold water. If you have significant pain, ice only for the first 3-5 days. Secondly, from day 4-6 onward, use contrast bathing to rotate between ice and heat. This promotes significant inflammation reduction coupled with rapid delivery of fresh blood which will accelerate the healing process.
Ice: Immerse the foot/feet for 2-5 minutes, every hour (or later if the foot/feet has not returned to it's normal temperature). Heat/Ice Contrast Bathing: Immerse the foot/feet in hot water for 1-2 minutes then switch to the icy cold water for another 1-2 minutes. Repeat for 12-16 minutes. Minimum three times a day.
Step 2: Move I teach a simple traffic light systems for pain relief in my clinic.
GREEN - If you do something and you have no pain, I give this a GREEN light and you can continue. AMBER - If you do something and you have some pain, but the pain reduces or goes away as you continue, I give this an AMBER light and you can continue with caution.
RED - If you do something and you have high pain and it doesn't subside, or worsens the more you do it, I give this a RED light and you should discontinue.
My recommendation for any lower extremity pain is to cycle or swim to generate blood flow, maintain your fitness and aid your healing process. The intensity should be reduced to allow your body to prioritize HEALING over SURVIVING!
Step 3: Self-Massage
Follow my instructional video below and discover how to quickly and effectively self-massage your foot using a lacrosse, golf or tennis ball.
As a simple test to experience the effects that releasing your plantar fascia has upon your back, bend forward, as if to touch the toes with the knees straight. Then follow my video for just one foot and repeat the forward bend test and compare the differences. Once complete, then return to treat the opposite foot. Those with recent back surgery, scoliosis or lumbar disc pathologies should skip this test.
The more pain you have, the greater your the postural debt, and the more frequency and intensity you will need for this self-massage trick. I recommend to massage each foot for 2-4 minutes, 2-3 times per day, with a massage pressure between 6-8 (10 would be maximum pressure).
Above & Beyond
Some other great alternative solutions to get to the root of your plantar fascia pain include: - Massage Therapy - schedule with me at www.jasonbarlowrmt.com/services - Shock Wave Therapy - (Swiss DolorClast Method) - Podiatrist Assessment & Orthotics - Gait Analysis
Any questions, you can reach me at my clinic by phone: 403 589 4645 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Yours In Muscle Health,
Jason Barlow, RMT
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