Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the ligaments and/or muscles on the bottom of the feet.  It is typically caused by ‘overuse’… in a repetitive, dysfunctional pattern.
photo credit : braceability.com
It is a common injury in runners or people that run for their main form of exercise.
The typical culprits are flat, disengaged arch(es), an uneven gait, an inconsistent foot strike, and using your feet to passively land rather than actively push you forward.

To remedy, first consider why you’re running in the first place.  If you’re running to get fit perhaps you should try a different modality.  It’s unfortunate, but you need a certain level of fitness to run consistently without issue.  Use running as an end, not a means.

For those insisting to keep up the habit, rest, ice, compression and elevation is traditionally used to soothe flareups.  Know that treating symptoms, though, will never extinguish the cause.

To eliminate the problems of plantar fasciitis altogether, Michael Rathleff has done some interesting new research on the topic: it’s all in the toes.

PASSIVE STRETCH

photo credit: running-physio.com

Pull toes back to shin until you feel a stretch in the arch. 
(The picture on the right includes a plantar fascial palpation, to ensure adequate tension) 
Prescribed dosage was 10x 10sec, 3x daily.
ACTIVE STRETCH/ STRENGTH TRAINING

photo credit: running-physio.com
 Toes are on towels to maximize flexion.  
3 second heel drop, 2 second pause, 3 second heel raise, 2 second pause on top.
It is critical that you perform these slowly to minimize risk of flare-up.

3 sets of 12 reps every other day.
Add load (backpack, books) and drop reps to 10 and 8, as resistance increases.
Attempt the two footed version first.
 Once practiced and strong enough, attack the single leg version.
Though both stretching and strength training should help, if you choose to only try one CHOOSE THE STRENGTH TRAINING option.  Participants in the study had significant improvement over the stretch only group.
TO REVIEW:
  • Plantar fasciitis is caused by a tightness in the calf, Achille’s, and/ or foot flexors
  • Having plantar fasciitis means there is something wrong with your running style
  • Before trying anything else, limit your running to see if volume is the reason the condition persists
  • The toes are the key to foot stability
  • Stretch toes or strengthen them in a slow and controlled manner to alleviate fascial pain on the bottom of the foot 

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