This Winter I have been sharing my love, and new found dedication to running (most recent post can be found here). I love the feeling of the brisk air on my cheeks, the peacefulness of a sunny winters morning. But what I don’t love is the pain I’ve been experiencing in my feet after running lately.
Of course I’ve had many clients with Plantar Fasciits before. I knew what it was generally, enough to know what the symptoms were, and what may relieve some of the pain, but never thought I would ever experience it for myself. Denial is can be a powerful defense mechanism I tell ya!
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a common and often persistent injury afflicting runners, walkers and hikers, and nearly anyone who stands for a living — my job as an instructor, for instance. [Source] It causes mild to sever pain sometimes in your big toe region, but mostly in the heel of the foot.
The plantar tendon is the piece of connective tissue, or fascia that runs across the bottom of your foot. Picture the arch of your foot as a bow (as in a bow and arrow), now picture the plantar tendon as the string on that bow.
When there is repetitive stress and strain on the arch of the foot, ie. running, excessive walking or standing, there is increased stress on the arch of the foot causing the plantar tendon to be stretched too much, and too quickly.
Translation: In some cases debilitating pain ensues, which can stop you in your tracks, literally! The common misconception about pf is that it’s caused by inflammation of the tendon, and admittedly prior to doing some research recently I thought the same thing. So unfortunately icing, and a foot rub won’t do the trick. Many scientific journals now prove that it is in fact a degeneration of the plantar tendon itself. Much like if you pull the string on a bow and arrow too tightly, too may times, it will begin to wear down and eventually break. [Source] So what can you do to relieve the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
So You Have Plantar Fasciitis, What Now?
There are so many different schools of thought about the specific causes of pf, tight calves, weak calves, over pronation, or supination of the foot, wearing high heels, structural causes, or posture. Much to my dismay, as the cause case to case cannot easily be pinpointed it is hard to offer effective treatment. The best advice I can give you from my research is to manage your pain. Plantar fasciitis can be stubborn and return whenever it damn well pleases, so be prepared to take steps to snuff it out whenever you have flare ups. Here are a few ways to do just that:
1. Visit Your Osteo, Chiropractor, or RMT- Although there is no definitive scientific research that these forms of alternative therapy “cure” plantar fasciitis, they can alleviate the symptoms in a big way! Structural adjustments can help especially if yours is a case where you suspect that a postural abnormality ie. pronation, supination may be the smoking gun. It’s worth a try!
2. Insoles-Again, there is no set “cure” for pf, but seeking help from a Podiatrist to get examined and fitted for insoles can be beneficial. Just be aware that many orthotics make big claims to “fix” your feet forever. I don’t know if they have a genie in a bottle somewhere, but this is a pretty tall claim! (pardon the pun)
3. Lengthen And Strengthen-This is where Pilates comes in. Because when you have plantar fasciitis it can be brought on by an imbalance in the calf muscles, it’s best to cover your bases and work at first lengthening the muscles in the calf by stretching them (standing on the edge of a step and hanging your heel over is always a good one).
Rolling your foot over a tennis ball can also help to lengthen the tendon itself. Afterward try a few strengthening exercises just using your own body weight like some simple calf raises, or use a Dyna Band if you have one. By balancing the muscles of the calf you could decrease the pressure on the plantar tendon.
If you or your clients suffer from plantar fasciitis there is tons of research and information out there, I’ve just named a few. I am happy to answer any questions I can, just leave me a comment below! Let’s work together to have happier feet!