Hey, this is Sock Doc. And today I’m going to talk about plantar fasciitis, a common problem that many people have, pain in their foot, pain in the heel. Typically, it’s worse as you get up in the morning and step down out of bed. People get a sharp pain in their heel, sometimes more towards the arch of their foot. And actually it tends to get better as you walk throughout the day, only to wake up the next day and have the pain result all over again.
It keeps people from walking. It keeps people from running and a lot of discomfort in the foot. So it’s important to realize that like most issue, most ailments, most injuries it’s important to diagnose why you have something rather than what have. So obviously if you have pain on the bottom of your foot, someone might diagnose that as plantar fasciitis, as heel pain, or as arch pain, but why did you get that?
Plantar fasciitis is often from a weakness in the lower leg muscles as well as foot muscles that are the result of muscle imbalances caused from too much stress in someone’s life. That can be from too much physical stress. Either someone who is overtraining, an athlete training too hard, too often, too high a heart rate, racing too much. Or someone who doesn’t even work out at all, but they’re standing on their feet and causing some pain and muscle imbalances because they’re basically working too hard, maybe too many hours in the office, dealing with kids at home, too many life stresses, or they’re eating improperly, too.
So overall excessive stress in someone’s life will actually have a reflection on the lower leg muscles, your calf muscles, and your foot muscles, and you cause the connective tissue at the bottom of your foot to tighten up and your plantar fascia will start to hurt and pull on where it attaches to your heel. The next thing you know you’ve got plantar fasciitis.
So here’s some things you can do that are most likely different than what you have been taught to do for plantar fascia. First, we don’t want to stretch the plantar fascia because when you stretch a muscle or stretch an injury you’re stretch connective tissue, you elongate the fibers.
What you want to do is bring those back together so they heal quicker. So stretching is going to delay the injury. What you want to do is look for trigger points, especially down inside your tibia bone which is your shin bone. Run your thumb down the inside of that tibia bone and look for tender spots throughout the leg coming all the way down, especially where it attaches to the arch of your foot.
So here, all the way up on the inside of this tibia bone, not back here on your calf. So you’re not coming this way, but you’re coming in like that. Also, behind the calf in here and in here. Feel any trigger points? Then work them out. Hold them, squeeze them. You can move your foot a little bit and basically rub them out. You really shouldn’t be very sore at all, but the point is that the muscle imbalances are in here. The injury is more right here even though it’s felt here in your heel.
You also want to strengthen your foot, and you’re going to strengthen your foot by starting to do some exercises such as a simple towel exercise, crunching up your toes like this, crunching up a towel really squeezing your toes and strengthening the plantar fascia. You can pick up things with your toes throughout the day with your feet like towels in the kitchen or in the bathroom. Pick up objects throughout the day. Little things might be laying around like kids’ toys or whatever.
The other thing you’re going to do to strengthen your feet is not to wear shoes that are too over-supportive, too high of a heel, more of a thick heeled, thin shoes, hard shoes that aren’t very flexible that will also weaken your feet the more you walk in them. You want to strengthen your feet. That means going barefoot. That means walking around barefoot as much as you can.
If you’ve got to wear shoes at the office or wherever you are for protection, think minimalistic. Think low drop from the heel to the front of the foot, not much of an angle. Think of a comfortable shoe but it can’t have too much support or too much cushion in there. You want to keep your foot close to the ground.
The other thing is regardless of that orthotics, orthotics might make your plantar fascia feel better as you’re wearing them, but they’re only going to support the dysfunction. It’s going to keep the imbalance of those lower leg muscles the same; it’s not going to fix them. It might support your pain as you’re wearing them, but it’s not going to help. The more you wear them the more you’ll weaken your foot muscles and the more you’ll end up with either the plantar fascia remaining inflamed, therefore your plantar fasciitis, or you might actually walk yourself literally into a new problem.
The next thing you know your knee hurts or your lower back or some other area of your body that you might not make the association with, but hey it’s from orthotics. Think low to the ground. Think no orthotics. Go barefoot as much as possible. If you’ve been wearing the orthotics for a long time start to take them out a half hour a day, an hour a day, two hours a day, more and more until you can walk barefoot. If you can walk barefoot your feet are strong.
So you’re going barefoot, you’re doing the towels exercises. Pick up things to strengthen your feet. You’re looking for the sore spots in your calf muscle, more here. Stay away from rubbing the heel pain. It’s only going to cave in. Don’t be stretching it. That’s going to help heal it up faster and then evaluate the stress in your life because those muscle imbalances are from too much stress, over-training in aerobic work, maybe sleeping poorly, eating a lot of that type of diet, doing more than you can handle.
That is where the plantar fasciitis problem is coming from, and that’s how you go about resolving it and hopefully preventing it. That’s it!