How can you help plantar fasciitis?
Have you ever had the bottom of your foot hurt before? You can barely put weight on that foot in the morning and you limp around awhile until things loosen up….or your heel hurts and you find yourself at the shoe store desperately buying shoe inserts or orthotics or heel pads trying to take pressure off of that poor foot.
Additionally, you find yourself icing your foot at night, and in the morning, and heading to the PT to get some really fun Graston (instrument assisted soft tissue manual therapy) treatments. How is that scraping the bottom of your foot going?
Nothing seems to have any lasting effects so far. What would I have you do?
Let’s take a look at what might be happening.
First of all, here is the actual plantar fascia itself. Attach -itis to it, and you’ve got inflammation of the plantar fascia.
How does the plantar fascia get tight?
Well, if you subscribe to the latest research on fascia, and you happen to read a book called Anatomy Trains by Thomas Meyers, you trip over this interesting illustration below. The story goes that Thomas Meyers took his cadaver and instead of cutting straight down to get to the bone and the muscle and the organs, he cut sideways and discovered various connected fascia areas he termed “trains”. The one on the back of the body is pictured below, called the Superficial Back Line.
Notice it starts at the base of the foot where the plantar fascia is also located, and creates a chain of connected tissue up the back of the leg all the way to the base of the skull.
I have actually already blogged about fascia before, and in that blog we tried a test:
Is it tight hamstrings or….
Is it tight fascia?
Here’s a quick review of the test: Lean over and touch your toes, and note the hamstring tightness you feel. Now briskly roll the bottom of your foot on a golf ball for 15-30 seconds, and then lean over again. What happened? Is any of that hamstring tightness impacted? If so, you are suffering from tight fascia- specifically from that back line.
Wrapped up in that fascia is the calf muscle, and the hamstring, and the back muscles.
Add in some legitimate muscle tightness from any of those three muscles, and you could start to feel tugging at the attachment points- in this case, the foot or the base of the head, and voila, there is one potential source of the plantar fasciitis (or headaches!)
Normal people do things like wear a boot all night like the one pictured below:
Or they roll their foot on hard rollers like this one….
However, my clients do something in addition to those symptom-focused treatments. I have them use the foam roller on their calves – that’s an obvious one, and sometimes makes a BIG difference, but I also have them roll their quads.
Well, if your quads get ridiculously tight, they are going to interfere with the hamstring’s ability to function, and then the hamstring can’t help the calf. Now the calves get really really tight, and start to pull on the place they attach at the base of the heel.
Take away the quad tightness, take away the calf tightness, and keep working on the hamstring (and of course glutes!) function. That is the long term solution!
Here is my client Jillian using the double roller solution- one roller under her hips to support her low back, and the second roller on the quads themselves to break down the tightness.
While you are there, try some hamstring curls (bringing your heels up towards your hips) on the roller! That will engage the hamstrings and help take pressure off of the calves. IF you feel your quads while doing a hamstring curl, I promise you have some quad tightness to overcome!
Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or what you think of my solution to the plantar fasciitis situation. Now get back out there and hike! 🙂