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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

About My Aches: Plantar Fasciitis

What is it?

The Plantar Fascia is a wide ligament (band of tissue that connects bone to bone) that runs from the calcaneus (heel bone) to the base of the toes, along the bottom of the foot. This ligament supports the arch of the foot and helps with stability of the foot. The ligament can get inflamed and pain can be felt in the arch and/or heel of the foot.

What does it feel like?

Pain in the heel when standing or walking. The pain can be worse when first standing up after being off the feet, then the pain becomes more bearable while standing and walking. The pain can be achy or more stabbing, and can often feel like a bone spur. It can cause pain when walking which can then lead to limping and tight calves and hamstrings.

What causes it?

The plantar fascia can get small tears which causes inflammation and irritation due to excessive standing, walking, or running, as well as improperly fitted shoes, being overweight, instability in the foot or ankle, or mis-alignment of the foot.

Can Massage help?

Massage of both the foot and the calf can help relieve the pain. Even though the pain rarely is felt in the calf, the achilles tendon and other deep muscles that affect ankle stability and wrap under the foot are located in the calf and loosening them can help the foot. Additionally, helping to increase circulation in the calf will help inflammation drain away from the heel and foot. Many people who have pain from plantar fasciitis also have extremely tight calves.

What can I do on my own?

Ice helps with the inflammation. Roll the foot on a frozen disposable plastic water bottle because the ice helps calm the inflammation and the ridges of the water bottle helps massage the area. Also rolling the foot, especially the arch and area right in front of the heel, on a tennis ball will help take off pressure and soften tight tissue. Stretches with a towel or Thera-band can help strengthen the arches, activate ankle stability muscles, and help encourage the foot and ankle to stay aligned . Doctors will usually recommend anti-inflammatory medicines. Some people find that wearing an ankle brace that keeps the foot slightly flexed while sleeping helps reduce pain first thing in the morning. Wearing cushioned inserts in shoes can help cushion the irritation when on the feet for a long time. Acupuncture, Kinesiology Taping, and Chiropractic work can also help plantar fasciitis.

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