In this post, I am going to explain in basic terms how Plantar Fasciitis comes about and how to solve the issue.
Fascia is latin for ‘band’, fascia runs throughout the whole of your body connecting muscles and other structures together. Fascia can get sticky and tight or over stretched and irritated. When stretched it slowly lengthens in a ‘plastic’ fashion, similar to how chewing gum lengthens slowly. In the foot is can become irritated if it is stretched too much and this is how Plantar Fasciitis begins.
The reason why it gets pulled too much is because the muscles that act upon the toes of the feet become weak and allow the toes to extend (correct term is dorsiflex) too much. When these muscles are functioning correctly they safely control this movement and prevent over stretching of the plantar fascia. The other aspect of this condition is stiffness in the middle bones of the feet, this prevents the ability of the foot to dissipate force effectively as the joints fail to allow the foot to act like a spring board to push off. Effectively causing extra tightness on the Fascia of the sole of the foot, so as the foot becomes loaded with weight the fascia is overstretched repeatedly.
The most common mistake made when treating this injury is that patients are only told to stretch out the sole of the foot, calves etc. This will lengthen the weak and tight muscles (a tight muscle is a weak muscle) and will help improve the conditioning of the muscles that are poorly functioning. However, patients should then perform exercises to strengthen the muscles of the feet to allow the fascia to return to its normal length and cease injury recurrence. A good stretch is pulling back the toes whilst gently massaging the sole of the foot for 20 seconds. Repeat this 30 times per day for best results, seems a lot but you need to make a significant change as soon as possible.
Seeing a specialist to help with any restrictions is very important as this will significantly increase your recovery time.
Early acute pain: stretch hamstrings, calves, toes flexors, ice, taping, orthotics and very light strengthening to tolerance
Later phase of treatment: stretch, increase strengthening and gradually withdraw orthotics.