Plantar Fasciitis – What Is It?
Although plantar fasciitis heel pain is the most common form of heel pain, if you’re like a lot of sufferers you probably have trouble saying the words plantar fasciitis, let alone understanding it. I know I did, so let’s begin there!
The term is commonly pronounced “PLAN-tar fash-ee-EYE-tiss”. The word plantar refers to the sole of the foot and fasciitis is a hybrid of the word fascia (Latin for band) and the suffix –itis (indicative of an inflammation). In combination, the words seem to indicate that bands on the soles of the feet have become inflamed.
While that definition is correct in strictly literal terms, a careful review of published research shows that it is not a good description of what is actually happening when you suffer with plantar fasciitis heel pain. In truth, numerous studies have shown that inflammation is NOT involved when patients like you or I suffer with the condition.
What is Plantar Fascia?
The plantar fascia is constantly flexing to support your feet throughout the day. When your toes flex upward – as you walk, for instance – your foot becomes more arched and the muscles stretch tighter. The plantar fascia adjusts accordingly to continue supporting your foot arch. This remarkably strong band of collagen and elastin fibers sees you through thick and thin, whether standing, walking, running or resting.
It’s important to understand the plantar fascia, because this band of tissue protects your muscles and bones, supports your arch, and is directly related to plantar fasciitis heel pain.
Plantar Fasciitis Exercises
Many people may experience a sharp heel pain in the morning while taking these first few steps after climbing out of bed. This pain comes from the tightening in the muscles that are damaged from plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis exercises include massaging or stretching the plantar fascia area before getting out of bed; this will reduce the pain when you walk on your feet. All of the exercises actually involves stretching various parts of the foot and lower leg. Some suggestions for effective plantar fasciitis exercises and stretches include:
1. Calf Stretching
Face forwards towards a wall and press your hands on the wall at eye level. This will allow you to balance. Position one leg slightly forward and the other leg a foot back.. Make sure to keep your back heel on the floor, and your front knee bent until you start to feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Hold this stretch position for 20 seconds and repeat it up to 4 times.
Starting off by laying down on your back. Pull the knee of the leg you want to stretch towards your chest while keeping your foot up in the air. The leg that’s being stretched should only be partially bent. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. You will feel a steady tension in your hamstrings. Repeat this process on the other leg.
Stand on the edge of a step with both heels over the edge of the stairs. Slowing allow your heel to drop down over the edge and relax your calf muscles while doing so. During this plantar fasciitis exercise hold the stretch for 20 seconds and then tighten you calf muscle as you bring your heel back up to the level of the step. Repeat 3-4 times.
Have several marbles on the floor next to a cup. Use your toes to lift up the marble and deposit them in a cup. Repeat exercise 5-10 times.
Roll up a towel and grab both ends. Place your foot in the middle of the towel and pull both ends towards you while keeping your knee straight. This will allow you to relieve pressure in the ball of your foot. Repeat this plantar fasciitis exercise as many times as desired.
Plantar Fascia Stretch
Seat yourself co mfortably on a low- to medium bench, chair or stool. Position the foot that needs stretching over the other as shown in the figure. Position fingers across the base of your toes and pull toes back towards the shin until a stretch is felt in the arch or plantar fascia, and hold that position for 10 seconds. When done correctly, you should feel tension in your plantar fascia when you press on it.
With your feet hip-width apart curl the toes on your left foot while focusing all your weight on the right foot. Repeat this exercise 5 times on each foot. These exercises will develop strength and flexibility in the muscles.
Plantar fasciitis exercises will loosen up the tightness caused by plantar fascia during sleep. Doctors recommend before sitting up in bed stretch out your foot and flex both feet up and down 15 times. Massaging the muscles is recommended while decreasing the training volume if you enjoy going to the gym.
While stretching is great for improving athletic performance and getting rid of those annoying sports injuries, it is also critical in eliminating plantar fasciitis heel pain. Stretching must be an integral part of any plantar fasciitis treatment plan. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective.