Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Low Down on Plantar Fasciitis

Our feet-we use them, even abuse them, yet we seldom think of them until they cause us pain. One of the most common conditions causing foot pain in plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis, sometimes mistakenly called "heel spur syndrome," is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is a thick band of connective tissue on the bottom of the foot that connects your heel bone to the metatarsal (toe) bones. The plantar fascia acts like a bowstring, supporting the arch of your foot and acting like a shock absorber. But if there's too much tension on the bowstring, tiny tears in the plantar fascia can occur, causing it to become inflamed and painful.
Repetitive stress on the feet from activities such as distance running, walking or standing for long periods of time on hard surfaces may lead to plantar fasciitis, as can being overweight or wearing unsupportive shoes. This is also true if you have biomechanical problems of the foot, like being flatfooted or having a hig arch. Both of these conditions change the way your weight is distributed while walking or running, which puts more pressure on the plantar fascia, and sometimes causes injury.
Some people with plantar fasciitis develop heel spurs, which are deposits of calcium in the heel that occur in response to inflammation. The heel spurs themselves don't necessarily cause pain, but may indicate the presence of plantar fasciitis.
If you have plantar fasciitis, you'll notice a burning or stabbing heel pain, usually after first stepping out of bed in the morning, when the plantar fascia is tight after a night's rest. As your foot stretches out from walking, the pain subsides, but may reoccur after (but not during) exercise or when getting up from a seated position. You may also see some swelling in the heel of your foot.
The good news about the plantar fasciitis is, if caught early, most cases are resolved without invasive treatment such as surgery. If you have pain for more than a week, you should consider getting it looked at by a sports Doctor.

Below are some suggested treatments that will help;

*Icing your foot three or four times a day to reduce pain and swelling.
*Resting your foot by avoiding the activities that make it hurt. If you want to work out, switch to something that puts less stress on your feet, such as swimming.
*Stretching exercises done first thing in the morning and several times a day.
*Wearing supportive shoes that have a cushioned sole and good arch support. You may also try shoe inserts, such as gel heel cups, which cushion the heel and are available at many pharmacies and medical supply companies. Be sure to wear the inserts in both shoes!

If these treatments don't work and start to relieve pain you made need custom shoe inserts or a split that is worn at night to help gently stretch the plantar fascia.
Another treatment is high intensity ultrasound waves to break up the scar tissue in the heel and promote new growth of blood vessels to the damaged area which helps in the healing process.

Once you have treated your plantar fasciitis it can return. The most important this to avoid it coming back is stretching. STRETCHING IS FOREVER!!!

Here are three simple stretches you can do:

1. Towel Stretch: Sitting on the side of the bed or in a chair, place a towel on the floor with one end just under the tips of your toes. Using your toes, grip the towel and pull it under your feet several inches. Relax your toes. Repeat several times until the towel is entirely under your feet.

2. Towel Stretch: Wrap the towel around the ball of your foot, keeping your leg straight and holding the two ends of the towel in each of your hands. Gently pull the towel (and the ball of yuor foot) toward your body, holding your foot in this position for about a minute. Relax for a minute and repeat several times.

3. Tennis Ball Roll: Sitting in a chair or on the side of the bed, place a tennis ball underneath your foot. Slowly roll your foot over the ball. This exercise can be done while watching TV or reading or at your desk.

Happy Stretching!!!



TonyP said...

How did you know I needed this info ? :)
I've been using the heel-that-pain inserts for about a month them !

Anonymous said...

this is very good to know, now i think i have the answer to my foot pain!
merry christmas lisa and family

Anonymous said...

The stretchs do work and so does the night splint. Saved my butt!
Have a very Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

I've been suffering from plantar fasciitis for the past year. The first stretch you describe isn't really a stretch--it's a strengthening exercise. According to my orthopedist, a trail runner who also suffers from plantar fasciitis, the muscles in the feet tend to weaken with age, and it's critically important to restore their strength in order to reduce strain on the fascia. When I do this exercise each morning, I weight the end of the towel with cans for a better workout.

Happy Holidays!