Understanding the Cause Suggests the Cure for Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar Fasciitis defined is simply an inflammatory condition caused by strain and over stretching of the ligament that spans the bottom of the foot. This plantar ligament functions to provide spring in your step as well as support the longitudinal arch. Inflammation of such can cause severe pain, particularly when barefoot, when first standing, upon awakening, or standing after prolonged sitting. Plantar fasciitis often precedes and plays a major factor in heel spur formation. As a side note, Plantar Fasciitis has a funny sort of spelling and is often mis-spelled as plantar facitis or plantar fascitis.
The use of gel or cushion under your foot can temporarily relieve or soothe plantar fasciitis. However, this offers temporary relief at best and should not be considered a long term solution. It is a common misconception by both sufferers and physicians alike that a soft cushion under the foot resolves a bevy of foot problems. In reality this measure compromises foot support in the long run, similar to the lack of support for the spine when sleeping on a soft mattress. I prefer to recommend proper support of the arch of the foot, thus relieving strain on the plantar fascia. This functions to actually reduce pressure on the attachment point where the plantar ligament (fascia) attaches to the heel. Excessive tensile forces at this point of insertion over time are the etiological factors that form heel spurs. In essence, a heel spur is your body's response to the ligament pulling on the bone, forming what doctors call a traction spur.
STEP BY STEP SOLUTIONS TO PLANTAR FASCIITIS
- The first step is to break the cycle of inflammation (swelling) and pain with ice and cold therapy.
- You must wear an orthotic that both supports the arches of the foot and offers a heel cup. The heel cup serves to elicit side pressure, thus squeezing and fluffing up your own natural fat pad. Your fat pad is nature's way of providing good shock absorption and comfort under the heel. It is not uncommon for those presenting with plantar fasciitis to have signs of a compressed, flattened out fat pad, subjecting the heel to undue stress and increased inflammation. Custom orthotics are great, but there are some over the counter orthotics like Superfeet Orthotic Comfort Insoles that do a great job as well.
- Wear only rubber soled shoes with good heel counters, good pronation control and good lateral stability.
- Other important factors to consider:
- Going barefoot is a no no, even in the shower. It is important to wear massage or acu-pressure sandals with arch support. Make sure they are rubber so you can wear in the shower. Keep them by your bed and slip your feet in to them first thing, so your heels never have to touch the floor.
- Never allow swelling to build up in the plantar fascia. Pain is a good indicator of swelling. Thus, if your arches and/or heels get sore during the day, make sure to soak your feet in ice water at night for 10-15 minutes. This is every bit as effective as shots of cortisone.
- Maintain flexibility in your achilles tendon and calves. Tension in these soft tissues is transmitted to the plantar fascia as you walk or run. The best method is to first warm-up your calves somehow as they will stretch more easily without straining them. It is best to stretch them while wearing shoes that includes the orthotics we have already discussed (never barefoot and never with cold muscles).
- It will also greatly benefit you to utilize deep tissue massage manipulate and to loosen the plantar fascia and muscles of the calf. There is a specific muscle called the "posterior tibialis" which almost always involved in the formation of plantar fasciitis. You can use your own home massage devices or try something like a Footsie Massage Roller. If you cannot implement your own massage at home a competent deep tissue massage therapist would be advisable.