Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common foot issues seen today. As personal trainers, countless of our clients come to us for help with foot pain and are at a loss with what to do next.
In this post, we’ll talk about the symptoms of plantar fasciitis, causes of the condition and exercises and stretches that you can do to treat the issue.
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
Pain on the bottom of your foot - around your heel and arch
The pain is worse when you start walking after resting your feet
You find it hard to lift your toes off the floor
What causes plantar fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a layer of tissue that lines the plantar (bottom of the foot). This tissue connects your heel bone to your toes, and it is a part of a wider system that supports the arch of the foot.
This system includes the muscles and bones of the foot and the hip joint, which needs to be strong enough to play its role.
There is no arch-shaped muscle in your foot; rather, it’s a global system and a collection of muscles that form the arch shape, and it’s why strong feet and hips are integral to maintaining healthy and pain-free feet.
The suffix ‘itis’ in medical language means inflammation, and in the case of plantar fasciitis, is referring to a state of irritation of the fascia. The irritation (and pain) shows local symptoms, but actually has several wider causes in the body.
The strained fascia is a result of a global dysfunction.
Current research indicates that when the other components of our arch support system are not doing their job (are weak), the fascia ends up taking the load of your body as a last resort. This tissue is not built to take this role on by itself, so it ends up becoming overloaded and irritated.
Lots of current treatments look to address the symptom but we really need to look at the root cause of the issue to create long lasting results.
Something many of us share in common these days, is stiff, weak and underused hips due to spending so much time sitting on chairs - this leads to hip dysfunction, causing an inability to stabilise the lower body and align the foot.
Stability is lacking and the foot cannot recruit the foot muscles due to weakness, so the plantar fascia takes the load as a last resort. This leads to inflammation and often a sense of helplessness as the symptoms worsen - but there is hope!
More often than not, those with plantar fasciitis won’t have to spend their lives wearing orthotics in order to create arch support artificially.
Strengthening the hips, lower legs and feet, and rolling out the feet to relieve pressure in the plantar fascia can make all the difference.
Plantar fasciitis treatment
Roll your feet - Lightly roll your feet on a lacrosse ball every day for two minutes on each foot in order to desensitize the plantar fascia. You can sit down if it is too painful to do while standing.
Work on your hip mobility - spend less time sitting down in one position by switching positions throughout the day by sitting on the floor, lying on your belly etc. Practise hip mobility exercises each day, including stretches like the 90/90 stretch.
Work on your foot mobility - train barefoot and perform foot mobility and strengthening exercises. Options include: lifting your toes 1-by-1; spread your toes or placing a toe spreader in between them, expose your foot to varied textures by going barefoot more.
Strengthen your hips, glutes and legs. Perform strengthening exercises so that your hips and lower body musculature are able to provide the stability needed to support your weight against gravity. Perform hip holds, clamshells, glute bridges, wall sits, squats, lunges, side planks, etc.
To summarise, 1 in 10 people, according to statistics, will experience plantar fasciitis in their life. It’s a debilitating issue as your ability to walk becomes problematic, and getting through a day pain-free becomes almost impossible.
If you are suffering with generalised pain and need some help with recovery, you can always explore online personal training as an option.