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—WHAT IS IT?—
It is an inflammation and irritation of the ligament that supports the arch of your foot. The largest percentage of the population that have this issue tend to be overweight or obese primarily due inactivity and excess that can increase the probability of irritation to the plantar fascia. A tight calf can also be a factor which is a variable affecting many people due to the calf being in a shortened position while sitting at work most of the day. Another cause, although a smaller percentage, comes from repetitive micro-trauma due sport or to abruptly increasing physical activity to the plantar fascia. So that covers everyone right?!!! Pretty much. The numbers a predominately larger in those of us that do not move much. Either way there are techniques we can use to prevent, reduce and heal the plantar fascia as well as a method to increase performance in already healthy feet.
How can this happen in an athlete or active or newly active person? When we begin a new exercise program like running for example or jumping and cutting movements wether you have done it many times before or not the tissue can become very irritated over time and can also be exacerbated by tightness in the calf as we mentioned earlier. Another example would be wearing new flatter shoes than you are used to for long periods of time. This can cause the planter fascia to stretch and irritate as well especially if you have flat feet or fallen arches. Usually symptoms are strongest in the morning when the foot has been still the whole night. You may experience pain in your foot when you first put your feet on the floor in the morning and it reduces as you walk around and the foot warms up.
By using SMR (Self Myo-Fascial Release) techniques to release those areas we can decrease tension in the foot and improve soft tissue extensibility or “stretchyness” which means the muscles will react more like a fresh new rubber band rather than an old sun-beaten, dry rope. Plantar fasciitis can decrease your ability to pull your foot back or dorsiflex. That means to point your toes up towards your knee thereby stretching the plantar sacia. If you can’t dorsiflex well it can reduce your ability to create plantar flexion thus making it harder to effectively use your foot and ankle complex efficiently. Basically if you can’t pull your foot back all the way, or pull the rubber band back without fear of breaking it or of pain, then it will not push off as well as it could if it were healthy. If I took a rubber band and pointed it at you without pulling back on it much you could probably care less because you know it has no power, in fact you would probably just stand there and laugh at me. However, if I pulled it back very tightly you would brace yourself for impact because your know that it carried a great amount of force behind it. It is very similar in the foot when the plantar fascia can and cannot perform properly.
Most intense in the first steps of the day on the outside of the foot.
The structural breakdown of the plantar fascia is believed to be the result of repetitive micro trauma.
—A FEW FACTS—
-10% of people have it at some point through their life or another
-Lack of ankle mobility and tissue extensibility can increase the likelihood that you will feel it more.
-If you have flat feet are obese or are inactive you are more prone to it.
-It can cause a lack in dorsiflexion / tightness in the gastrocnemius and achilles tendon.
-Sitting for prolonged periods, More than 2 hours at a time several times out of the day, causes tight gastrocnemius. (calf)
-If your calf is tight it may cause your heel to elevate during a squat, dead-lift and many other movements which decreases your ability to produce power/strength and improve function.
-70% of people with it are in the non athletic population and are obese. Each year it is responsible for 1 to 2 million office visits per year.
-It can usually be treated and reduced to no pain within 6 months but can be avoided through the proper stretching of the gastrocnemius and plantar muscles and increasing ankle mobility.
-In 50% of cases Plantar fasciitis patients usually have a bone spur and in which case the underlying pain is usually coming from the limited mobility in the plantar muscles not the spur itself.
—LAST OPTIONS FOR PAIN—
Non steroidal options like anti inflammatories are usually the first line of medicated defense. I believe it can be dramatically reduced and your performance increased through SMR/ mobilization and strengthening.
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT OR HELP THE ISSUE
First of all your feet and ankle are the very first part of you that absorbs and dissipates energy from movements and then through your body so it is fairly safe to say that anyone would benefit from using these techniques as a preventative measure or a method to improve your current functional ability regardless of the level of activity you are currently at.
1.Self Myo-Fascial Release – SMR or Compressions
Foot – use a ball to place light pressure to the bottom of the foot to increase blood & nutrient flow to the plantar fascia was well as to breakup any tissue that is bound up. Press lightly for a couple of seconds going from the heel to the ball of your foot. Start easy for the first day until you feel the effects of it the next day. It will feel tender as you do it and a bit tender the next day especially if you already have a diagnosed case of plantar fascia. Let your pain be your guide. We want tension not pain. Some of us want pain and not tension. You know who you are.
Use this gauge for the density of ball you choose to use from the day you start and progress as you move on if you want more pressure.
soft/hard/harder EXAMPLE: tennis ball / lacrosse ball / billiard ball
I stay with the Lacrosse ball but you get the point.
Calf – roll with a foam roller, softball or my favorite the kettle bell.
2. Stretch / Mold
Foot & Calf – Stretch dynamically then statically once you are warm. Lightly at first. Try twice a day for 20 to 30 seconds AFTER rolling. If you feel it might make you really sore then slow down a bit. You have more than 1 day to fix it. Try again the next day and let the body heal.
3.Repeat daily even after the problem is gone. Healthy soft tissue needs constant maintenance and its density, pliability can still continue to improve with more attention.
Take care of yourself & enjoy!
For more stretches, ankle mobility and total improvement training techniques check out our site or request a coach through email or phone call.