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  • Writer's pictureAmy Dougley

Plantar Fasciitis - What is it and what to do about it

There are many different moving joints and muscles in our feet but when the bottom of our foot or heel becomes painful this is usually a sign of plantar fasciitis.

When this kind of foot pain strikes, we usually notice it right away and hope that it goes away quickly because with each step we feel it. We don't want foot pain interfering with our ability to walk or enjoy other activities. Plantar fasciitis can either be short lived (acute) or can become chronic if not addressed early on.

It is caused by inflammation that sets into the plantar fascia (a big ligament) in the bottom of our foot. This can be due to immobility or sometimes an old foot injury such as a sprain or strain that doesn't heal properly.

The plantar fascia attaches to our heel bone (calcaneus) and wraps around it to form the Achilles tendon on the back of our ankle. Pain from plantar fasciitis can even be related to problems with these structures. Sometimes the calf muscle and Achilles tendon are the source of the problem. They can become tight which can pull on the plantar fascia and throw off foot mechanics causing the pain on the bottom of the foot.

What Causes It? At its root, plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia. This is typically caused by poor foot mechanics. Poor foot mechanics can be a result of immobility (i.e. wearing boots all day at work and standing on concrete floors) or muscles and joints that are not moving the way they should. When muscles and joints are not moving properly in any part of the body it can lead to pain and problems that creep up without warning. Usually this is from some sort of overuse or old injury to the area that never healed properly.

Once inflammation sets in the bottom of the foot, it can be very difficult to get rid of it because we are always using our feet. How Do You Treat It? The good news is that if you have plantar fasciitis there are many treatment options for this painful condition. The other good news is that many of the recommendations for plantar fasciitis can be performed at home with simple items you have around your house.

The first step is to reduce inflammation, so using ice will be most helpful. It is best to freeze a water bottle and then take it out, place it on the floor and roll the bottom of your foot over it for 10 - 15 minutes.

Stretching is also something that will need to be implemented if you wish to solve plantar fasciitis. Calf stretching should be performed regularly as well as stretching the bottom of your foot. This can be accomplished by grabbing your toes, bending them backward while also bending your ankle upward. Think toes to nose, while using your hand to bend your foot and hold the stretch.

Although self care at home is vital to recovering from plantar fasciitis, nothing is more important than seeking the care of a chiropractor or physiotherapist. They will be able to diagnose the exact cause of the problem and provide treatments to the area, which will speed up healing. This may include joint and muscle work, acupuncture, TENS and exercise prescription, specific to your needs.

How Do You Prevent It? If you have had plantar fasciitis in the past or are worried it might strike you in the future, there are regular stretches and other things you can do to prevent it from coming back.

The first thing to do is wear proper footwear. If you need to wear steel-toed boots at work, use the ones that look like a running shoe. High topped boots should be avoided as this immobilizes the foot leading to joint dysfunction and pain. Also, avoid high heels as this places your achilles tendon in an awkward position and throws off the way you walk leading to problems down the road.

The other things to make part of your routine are calf stretches. These are easy to do and can be performed anywhere at any time. By keeping your calf stretched and loose, you can prevent one of the main causes of this painful condition. We hope you found this article helpful. If you or someone you know is struggling with plantar fasciitis, give our office a call and book in to see our chiropractor, he is well trained to deal with this condition and has had great success treating it in the past. You can even request a free 15 minute consultation so you can ask more questions before committing to care. Dr. Spenser Dougley DC, FR, FRCms

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