Plantar Fasciitis Self Care

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the fascial (connective tissue) support strap which lies on the bottom of our feet.  The damage is from a “pulling away” type stress, most commonly at the attachment to the heel bone (calcaneus).

Plantar fasciitis is a common condition in our society. Our “over-use” of footwear may be the reason for the prevalence.  It’s possible that foot muscle atrophy (weakening) has occurred because shoes are doing the support work for the muscles of the foot which no longer have the ability to create the arch and stability needed to keep the tissues from being  damaged during activity- even normal activities!

Orthotics, while a “life-saver” for those with PF and other foot ailments, may be contributing to the problem by allowing the foot muscles to get away with minimal work.  This seems to be especially true of rigid orthotics which also prevent the foot from going through its normal wave of motion with each step by holding the foot in an unnatural rigidity of its own “foot posture”.  Weaning ourselves off of external supports whenever possible may be the best cure.  This needs to be done gradually and systematically to prevent giving the weakened foot too much too soon.

In addition to these self-care strategies, we have found that chiropractic adjusting of the foot a few times during the “reconstruction” phase adds great benefit to symptom relief and shortening of healing time.

anatomy1

Above all, it is important to consider what is causing the problem!  Obviously, treating symptoms only without addressing the cause is an unending struggle and a waste of effort, time, and money.

Do you need to lose weight?  Do you need to buy new/ better shoes or orthotics?  Do you need to train less?  Train on a different surface?  Do you need to reevaluate your nutritional status?  Is your genetic predisposition (eg. ligamentous integrity) a factor?  Is the activity you are involved in just not a good one for your body type and/or body challenges due to genetics or past health and injury history?

In addition to the above investigation, consider the following self-care activities:

Ice; this is an inflammatory condition, ice is a wonderful anti-inflammatory.  Be sure to follow proper icing procedures and never put stress on a freshly iced part/area.  Let the foot warm up a while before putting your full weight back on it.   Never, ever stretch any body part while it is being iced or if it has been recently iced!  The tissues are not pliable and you can easily tear them, causing further injury.

Anti-inflammatory medications do have their place used short term.  Used long term can lead to: 1) gastrointestinal ulceration and bleeding. 2) inhibition of your body’s natural anti-inflammatory activity. 3) liver and/or kidney damage. 4) inhibition of your body’s ability to repair itself through building of new tissue.  Better yet, be sure to eat an “anti-inflammatory” diet (https://www.deflame.com/deflaming/diet/) and take anti-inflammatory supplements such as vitamins C and D and omega-3 fish oils.

Ball rolling/stretching of the plantar fascia; use a golf ball or foot-roller device to gently and consistently stretch the bottom of the foot.  Never do this when the foot is freshly iced! (see STRETCHING TIPS)

Strengthen the foot through the use of progressively increasing repetitions and sets of 1. “writing” the alphabet with your big toe, 2. toe-ups, 3. towel/newspaper scrunches, 4. dowel/pencil or marble lifting and moving using your toes.

Here is a video which will explain and show some good exercises.  These exercises are good for all feet, not just those doing “minimalist running”.  If you lack the equipment needed for some, improvise or go with other exercises which are done without those props.

YouTube Video of foot exercises

 

Calf and Achilles tendon stretch (Soleus and gastrocnemius muscles)

  • Stand with one foot in front of the other, feet at hip width apart, knees soft and slightly bent, feet flat on floor.
  • Gently bend the back knee further down until you feel a stretch along the back of the back leg (soleus muscle.
  • Hold for 5 to 15 seconds.
  • Straighten the back leg and lean your hips forward until you feel another calf stretch (gastrocnemius).
  • (this stretch is also seen in the above video)
NOTE: It has been found that significant contributors to overly tight plantar fascia and calf muscles are high heel shoes and bed sheets which are tucked in too tautly at the foot of the bed, forcing the foot into toe-pointing position for long periods of time and therefore shortening the structures which need to be at proper length for proper mechanical functioning of the foot.
 
Taping; using a good-quality and possibly hypo-allergenic athletic tape, 1 and 1/2 inches wide:

1. wash and dry foot

2. apply tape non-weight-bearing, not too snug to a relaxed foot

3. start with a strip across the transverse arch of foot/ across metatarsal heads as an anchor

4. lay a half figure-8 beginning at base of big toe and going down and around the heel, back to base of big toe

5. lay a half figure-8 beginning at base of little toe and going down and around the heel, back to base of little toe

6. lay another strip across the transverse arch and proceed down in 1/4 inch overlaps, shingle style, to lay successive transverse strips toward the heel.

7. you may keep this on your foot as long as a week if you can stand the smell!  Otherwise, reapply every few days. You must keep your foot taped for at least a week (but no longer than 2 weeks) for the healing process to be complete enough.

NOTE: you may want to shower with a plastic bag on your foot secured with a rubber band.

(if this seems too complicated, try an internet search for “plantar fasciitis taping” for some good pictures and possibly a video instruction on how to do it)

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2 thoughts on “Plantar Fasciitis Self Care

  1. This is an inflammatory condition, ice is a wonderful anti-inflammatory. Be sure to follow proper icing procedures and never put stress on a freshly iced part/area. Let the foot warm up a while before putting your full weight back on it. Never, ever stretch any body part while it is being iced or if it has been recently iced! The tissues are not pliable and you can easily tear them, causing further injury.