By Laurie Sweig
I am gratefuL that I have not suffered from plantar fasciitis. I have known many people who have. It sounds painful and debilitating. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the thick band of tissue, known as the plantar fascia, which runs across the bottom of the foot. Simply put, it connects your heel to your toes.
The role of a healthy plantar fascia is to help in the forward propulsion of the walking process as it tenses and releases during each step. Irritation and soreness results from this tissue spending too much time in the tension phase. The common causes of plantar fasciitis are obesity, flat feet, limited ankle mobility and weak foot/toe muscles.
Treatments for plantar fasciitis have included orthotics, corticosteroid injections and various physiotherapy practices such as ultrasound. In many situations these methods only provide temporary relief because the root of the problem is the immobility of the joints in hips, ankles and feet. Once those joints are freed from the restrictions true healing can begin.
Whether you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis or not these activities are great to make part of a regular routine:
• Take your shoes (and socks when possible) off as much as you can. Wearing shoes with any kind of arch support (most shoes have some kind of arch support) is just as bad for the strength of your feet as is sitting down with them propped up. For a muscle to get or be strong it has to be loaded. Having arch support doesn’t let that happen. Walk shoeless using your entire foot in each step every single day for as long as you are able. When you’re sitting, spread and wiggle your toes. You can also do a plantar fascia exercise by holding your toes (that part of your foot) in one hand and your heel in the other and twist them in opposite directions (wringing motion). It’s a great way of loosening the tension that’s built up in there.
• When you have to wear shoes choose ones with no heel, a wide toe box and that are as flexible as possible. This allows all of the muscles, ligaments and tendons of the foot to do what they are meant to do.
• Work on ankle flexibility by moving it in all of the directions it can go. This can be done while you’re sitting. Flex your foot, point your toes and then rotate in both directions. Could it be any easier?
• The 90/90 position is great for hip mobility. Look it up online for direction on how to do it.
• Keep the muscles of your lower body flexible with a regular stretching routine (contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for information).
It really does come down to keeping the body moving in all of the ways it was meant to move. The beautiful thing is that no matter how stiff and sore we may feel, the right type and amount of movement can fix things. I’ve discovered the hardest part is remembering to do the exercises on a regular basis. Thank goodness for these smart phones and their built-in alarms!
Something to think about.
Laurie Sweig is a certified personal fitness trainer and spinning instructor. She owns and operates The Point for Fitness. She can be reached at email@example.com.