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Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis feels like soreness and stiffness in the bottom of the feet. It can range in intensity from a mild itchy tightness to hot stabbing pain. Recovery can be a few weeks to many years. The are some good things to do  that make it likely that you will recover very quickly.

Plantar refers to the sole of the foot. Fascia is the connective tissue sheet that holds your foot (any your whole body) together. Itis means inflammation. Thus plantar faciitis is an inflammation in the bottom of your foot, specifically in the connective tissue. There are micro tears (and in severe cases tears visible through ultrasound) and your body has an inflammatory response to protect the injured area and begin rebuilding.

Often your feet will be very stiff when you get up. They will loosen up if you walk a few steps. This is not good news. The stiffening is from the fascia healing over night. Walking will tear it again. This cycle can go on for years.

To heal from plantar fasciitis, you must change the way you walk and stand. Sometimes this can be done losing weight, or using corrective footwear. Better results can be had be changing habits.

The plantar fascia is connected to all the fascia in the back of the body. Tension anywhere on the back side can pull and create the tearing. If we change that pull, the body will heal. If we only patch the fascia, the problem can easily return.

Some possible treatments included heel lifts and ankle braces. The idea is to keep the ankle from bending as far while the fascia heals. It will work, and the fascia will regrow, but it does not address the mechanical problem that initiated the tearing.

Stretching is also used for treatment. The right stretches, meaning the right amount of force, in the right place can do wonders. The trick is getting them right. Too much will just perpetuate the tearing, and too little will not make enough change to support the healing. The ultimate success of this approach depends on whether the stretching alters the habit that initiated the irritation. That can be hard to know initially, since stretching anywhere along the line can temporarily ease the symptoms.

Using ice can reduce inflammation. This can allow for a return to proper usage. A favorite is freezing a 1/2 liter bottle of water and rolling it with the foot. Sometimes using a golf ball can be effective. I strongly recommend sitting while doing this, as standing on a golf ball  potentially puts extreme pressure on small bones.

Some cases have little to do with the back of the body. The origin of the tension can be from a habit of standing or walking with the arms folded across the chest. This moves the center of gravity forward, and thus strains the posterior tissue. Similarly, forward head posture or abdominal tension can create the conditions leading to plantar fasciitis.

A full body postural analysis can detect the places of contraction. Likely sites include the calf muscles, the sitz bones (top of the hamstrings), lumbar spine (low back),  and T1-C7 (base of the neck).

A nice alternative approach is working delicately and specifically with the feet. Increasing awareness of the options for shaping and action can bring dramatic results in brief time. Often following that with similar neck work will integrate the new awareness and engender a lasting change of habit. Symptomatic relief can be immediate.

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September 8, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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