Have you ever thought about the work your feet do every day? Your feet are the foundation of your physical form, but they are literally the furthest thing from most people’s minds. We mindlessly abuse our feet until we are injured or in pain. Only then do we start to notice them.
Sadly, the prevalence of foot and ankle problems has skyrocketed. Millions of Americans suffer from foot and ankle injuries every year. The pain from plantar fasciitis, fallen arches, high arches and over-pronation is often intense and debilitating. Half of all adults say that foot pain has restricted their activities—like walking, exercising, working or playing their favorite sports (APMA American Podiatric Medical Association).
Two million Americans suffer from plantar fasciitis every year and 10 percent of the population will experience it in their lifetime. It has become recognized as one of the most chronic and, often times, most difficult foot problems to treat (Rosenbaum AJ, DiPreta JA, Misener D (March 2014). “Plantar Heel Pain”. Med Clin North).
But, there’s hope! Studies show that the combination of stretching and strengthening exercises, massage,and the use of good quality insoles, can be prevent and relieve this epidemic and increase endurance.
Let me explain a little bit about plantar fasciitis so that you can understand why it’s happening and how to fix it. Your Plantar Fascia is a band of tissue that runs all the way along the bottom of your foot. The arch of your foot is meant to drop a little during the gait cycle – to absorb impact – it’s like a rubberband, but when the arch over stretches, it creates micro-tears in the plantar fascia, under the arch or back at the attachment point at the heel. Many people feel like their feet are bruised, they think they need to get some cushioning. The truth is, they need to wear arch support, constantly, at least until the arch is fully healed. While your foot is weak if the arch drops again, it will tear in the same places where it’s trying to heal, an endless cycle for those of us who have experienced plantar fasciitis.
In addition to wearing arch support, you need to strengthen the muscles in your feet. This will help in healing and help to protect this from happening again in the future. A few foot strengthening techniques are:
- Balance on one foot, while trying to keep all four corners of the feet touching the ground
- Point the toes
- Pick up marbles or other small things with your toes
Remember to Stretch your feet (gently) and calves multiple times a day. Reach for your toes. Do lunges. Stand at the edge of a stair facing up the stairs, letting you heels hang off the edge to give them a stretch.
It is also very important to massage out the scar tissue. Go deep. Roll a small ball or a frozen water bottle under your foot.
Click Here to watch a wonderful video showing these stretches and exercises.
Don’t miss out on the fun active things in life, it’s time to heal. Use the acronym MISS to help remember these 4 Steps:
For insoles, I recommend trying Soul Insole’s Shoe Bubble. You can get a couple pairs of these arch supports and stick them into the shoes you wear most often.
p.s. For some, plantar fasciitis can be exacerbated by the way they sleep. Many people sleep with their feet in dorsiflexion (pointed). Waking up and immediately demanding plantar flexion (extension) from your feet by standing up can re-tear plantar fascia that has stiffened and tightened throughout the night. If the morning is the time that you feel that pain in your feet, then a night brace/sleeping with your feet flexed (not pointed) will really help.