Plantar fasciitis can be a real pain in the foot. Plantar fasciitis is the medical term for inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. If you’ve ever had pain in the bottom of your foot with the first few steps out of bed in the morning, you’ve probably had some experience with this painful condition.
In active populations, plantar fasciitis is often associated with overuse or a sudden drastic increase in activity and temporarily easing off of activity can be part of the solution, but self massage and stretching is the key. In more sedentary populations, weight gain is usually a major contributor to plantar fasciitis and a weight-loss plan could be of benefit. Mary, out nutritionist, is happy to help.
Here are some simple (and free) things you can do at home to help prevent and, according to a multitude of clients, reverse plantar fasciitis.
1. Calf Stretching in Bed: As you may already know, the first few steps out of bed in the morning can be the worst of the day. Those first few steps can be enough to reaggravate your condition putting you into a cycle of inflammation and pain. The best way to help break that cycle is to stretch your calf before taking those first steps in the morning. When the muscles in your calf are tight, they pull on the heel bone, making your plantar fascia very taut and prone to injury. To help loosen those muscles, take a towel or belt and loop it around the ball of your foot. Keeping your leg straight, gently pull towards your body until you feel a stretch in the lower part of your leg. Hold that for 30 seconds and repeat up to 5 times before taking your first step out of bed.
2. Plantar Fascia Stretching: there is a very simple was to loosening up the tissues that are irritated. All you have to do is pull your toes up with your hand until you feel a stretch along the ball of your foot. You may feel the stretch anywhere from the ball of your foot to your heel. Holding this position for 30 seconds a few times can make a world of difference in your pain levels.
3. Calf Stretching: I know, it probably seems like overkill, but stretching out the muscles in the lower leg is an integral step to recovery. There are two main muscles in the lower leg that attach to the heel, so we’ll work on stretching them both out. Stand against a wall and slide one leg back, pushing the heel down towards the floor (first picture). When you feel a stretch in the lower part of your leg, hold it for 30 seconds. After those 30 seconds are up, bend your knees until a deeper stretch is felt a bit lower in the leg (second photo). Again, hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat this until you’ve done it 3 times on each leg.
4. Massage: Visit Croft at MPS, in San Jose! If that isn’t an option, grab a tennis ball. Placing a tennis ball on the ground and gently rolling it under your foot for a few minutes can help loosen up your plantar fascia, making it much less likely to become irritated. Put enough pressure on the ball to get a deep massage. You may feel some soreness and tenderness, but back off if you feel any pain.
5. Ice Massage: While using the tennis ball is great for loosening the fascia, you should also add some icing at the same time for some inflammation control. Freezing a water bottle (my preference is a HINT water bottle because of the thicker plastic) and rolling it under your foot for 10 minutes at the end of the day can be a very effective way to keep inflammation in check while staying loose. It might not be the most comfortable thing in the world, but it works!
One thing to keep in mind is that while these tips have been proven to work, they’re not an instant fix. It can take a few weeks of consistency with them before your pain levels begin to change. If you’re not seeing any improvement after making an honest effort, come chat with us… we will help!