If you’ve experienced plantar fasciitis (PF) or know someone who has, you are aware of the amount of pain and discomfort it can cause. If this is something new to you, let’s break down what plantar fasciitis is and some of the factors that may contribute to the condition.
Plantar fascia is the fibrous/connective tissue band that travels from your heel to your toes. When this tissue is irritated, it can lead to inflammation (-itis). This inflammation can be the result of a traumatic injury such as a tear, or the cumulative affect of a repetitive strain injury, often referred to as overuse syndrome.
There are many factors contributing to one’s PF and the one that stands out the most is the presentation of abnormal biomechanics in the joints of the foot, knee and or hip. Breakdown of normal joint motion in any one of these areas can alter your gait/movement leading to increased stress on the soft tissues in the plantar surface. As I mentioned above, trauma can cause PF, but most of the time this condition develops over a longer period of time.
Other common causes of PF that we often see in our clinic include:
- Occupational constraints that include standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time and repetitive motion(s) in the lower extremities.
- Muscular imbalances from the lower back down to toes.
- Shoes that provide little to no support as well as shoes that increase the stress on these structures such as narrow toe box, increasing risk of bunions and deviation of great toe. This tends to pull on the plantar fascia ultimately leading to inflammation.
- High heels will shorten the calf muscles and Achilles’ tendon, again, leading to unnecessary pull/tension on the heel.
- Increasing your physical activity when you have been inactive for some time. Being active has its benefits, however, you must build up slowly in order for your muscular and nervous systems to adapt at a rate that is healthy for you. Too much or too little of anything can be counterproductive. Key is moderation.
- Lastly, if someone’s ankle is showing limited range of motion, the body will make up for it somewhere else, such as the adjacent joints, knee or metatarsals. This hypermobility can lead to abnormal mobility, in turn causing pain in the plantar surface.
Keep in mind, there are additional causes of PF not listed above. I wanted to mention the most common ones that we see on a weekly basis.
With everything that has been laid out, now the million dollar question:
What can be done to help with your plantar fasciiits?
We utilize a variety of treatments to resolve this condition. Depending on how long you’ve been experiencing the pain as well as how severe your condition is, our starting point for treatment may vary.
An excellent, non-invasive method to resolve PF, often quickly and permanently, is with Active Release Techniques (ART). ART is a hands on therapy that can help pinpoint the soft tissue adhesions, or areas of dysfunction, that are the main contributors in PF. The treatment can be uncomfortable but no worse than the actual condition itself. I’ve had many patients come in with this condition and have see great results utilizing ART over the past 10 years. Some patients are free of pain after 1-2 sessions and others can sometimes expect 6-8 visits to see improvement.
Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition and one that must be thoroughly examined and assessed. Complete resolution of this condition may require the use of custom foot orthotics, dietary changes that promote anti-inflammation and manual therapies.
For more information about ART and how it might be able to help you, please visit http://chanhassenchiro.com/active-release-techniques/.