Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition, in which a person feels heel pain (or pain elsewhere on the bottom of their foot) that is usually at its worst first thing in the morning. This condition can persist for months to years, and may cause the person to limit their normal work, athletic, and recreational activities due to the severe pain. It is named after the connective tissues on the bottom (plantar side) of the foot. Traditional treatments such as ice, stretching, and self massage are limited in their effectiveness. Fortunately, a new treatment technique called Active Release Techniques (ART) is gaining popularity as an effective treatment for plantar fasciitis and other foot conditions. We will first look at how plantar fasciitis develops, and then discuss how Active Release Techniques works.
How plantar fasciitis develops:
When the load placed on the body is greater than the capacity of the body’s tissues to handle that load, the result is dysfunction. Any time a muscle is overworked (repetitive motions, repeated contractions) or acutely injured (fall or collision causing a tear or crush), it receives a decreased amount of bloodflow (read: oxygen flow). If this condition continues, the hypoxia (lack or oxygen flow) causes adhesions to form in the muscles. These are sticky areas, almost as if someone poured glue into the muscle, which limit range of motion, alter your biomechanics, and cause pain. Adhesions remain until they are treated. Rest, ice, stretching, and ibuprofen will not make them go away! You may get some temporary relief, but once you resume your activities, the issue will make itself known once again.
Plantar fasciitis treatment with Active Release Techniques:
Active Release Techniques is a manual therapy technique that is effective in reducing the adhesions so that you can get back to your activities! With plantar fasciitis, the structures that typically require treatment are the plantar fascia, gastrocnemius and soleus (calf muscles), and the posterior tibialis, flexor hallicus longus, and flexor digitorum longus (deep calf muscles). Certain hip muscles may also require Active Release Techniques treatment if they have developed adhesions that are impairing with their proper function, and thus throwing off the biomechanics of the whole lower extremity chain. Your Oakland sports chiropractor will also be able to examine all the joints in your feet and ankles to make sure nothing is fixated. The two most common foot subluxations in a patient with plantar fasciitis are talus fixation and calcaneus fixation.
Home care for plantar fasciitis:
There are several things you can do in conjunction with Active Release Techniques treatments and chiropractic care, that will loosen up tight muscles, improve circulation, and reduce your heel pain.
–Stretch calf muscles by standing facing a wall and leaning in.
–Tennis ball pressure on bottom of foot upon waking; stand with one foot on a ball, make slow circles focusing on the tight and tender spots for one to two minutes.
–Night splint may be worn overnight to help keep the plantar fascia and the calf muscles stretched out.
–Gluteal and hip strengthening: aberrant motion in the foot/ankle is often a result of weak gluteal and hip muscles.
–Ice for 15 minutes after activity: the research is currently mixed regarding the effectiveness of this, but for some people it makes a big difference.
–Nutrition: choose whole clean foods, anti-inflammatory diet.
–Remove excess load; losing weight if overweight, cutting back on marathon running sessions, make changes in footwear or running surfaces gradually, etc.).
If you are suffering with plantar fasciitis and would like to find out if you’re a candidate for Active Release Techniques treatment, please call (510) 465-2342. And to download Dr Baird’s updated 22 page e-book, click the image below!
Photo: Wikicommons by Lucien Monfils