What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Common knowledge tells us that Plantar Fasciitis is inflammation (-itis) of the Plantar (sole of the foot) Fascia (connective tissue). That sounds pretty good. Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that, and “Plantar Fasciitis” has become a catch all term for pain in the bottom of the foot. Pain first thing in the morning is the uniting factor. However, some people have more pain on the heel, others through the arch of the foot, and some even in the toes. The plantar fascia covers the entire bottom of the foot, from the toes to the heel, so it makes sense that pain can be anywhere in the foot.
But what is this fascia? It is not a tendon or a ligament. Fascia is a connective tissue “gel” that surrounds every muscle, muscle group, organ, and lays under the skin. Think of it as the “Force” of your body, if you’re a fan of a certain science fiction franchise. But even knowing that doesn’t really explain Plantar Fasciitis, because there is nothing that indicates which layers are being affected. Basically, if you have foot pain, especially in the morning, you’ll likely be diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis.
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
There isn't even a good scientific or medical consensus here. As Plantar Fasciitis does not just describe one syndrome nor does it affect everyone the same, pinpointing a cause can be problematic. Tight calf, thigh, or hip muscles can contribute, as are caused by poor running form, long periods of time standing on hard surfaces, and high heeled shoes. Weak muscles in the same kinetic chain can also cause various types of foot pain. Foot shape contributes as well, although there isn’t much evidence from studies that correlate this. There has been some correlation between high BMI and Plantar Fasciitis as well, which can also affect the knees and entire hip and leg complex.
The causes of Plantar Fasciitis are as varied as the types of pain people experience that suffer from it. In my experience, runners, retail workers, and people who spend many hours in high heeled shoes are most likely to suffer from plantar foot pain.
What can I do about this awful pain?
A solid assessment of static and dynamic movement patterns would be required to see where muscles imbalances lie. This is a case where each individual likely has a different treatment plan. There are some things that you can do at home, but if you’re looking up this, you probably have already tried them! Stretching of the calf muscles and the bottom of the foot can offer some pain relief, as can rolling the foot on a golf ball or similar object. Arch supports are often recommended and can help in certain cases. However, for these to be truly effective they should come from a podiatrist.
Several massage techniques and exercises can help. These should be performed by a professional that has experience with them. I found cupping, thermal stone therapy, and inhibition techniques work the best. Again, there is a high amount of individuality to these treatments; what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for them all. Schedule your assessment to begin your treatment today.
"Never measure the height of a mountain until you reach the top. Then you will see how low it was.” -Dag Hammerskjold