What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis (say “PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tis”) is also called heel spur; is the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of our feet and is designed to absorb the high stresses and strains we place on our feet.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when too much stress is placed on the plantar fascia (ligament) and the tissues start to tear which results in your heel or the bottom of your foot hurting when you stand or walk.
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Common Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
The plantar fascia is designed to support the pressure we place on our feet, however, too much pressure damages or tears the tissues. Plantar Fasciitis can be caused by:
- Prolonged periods of being on your feet on hard surfaces
- Increase in activity such as walking, running or standing
- High impact physical activity such as running, ballistic jumping and aerobics on hard surfaces
• Tight Achilles tendon or calf muscles that limit ankle mobility
• Flat feet or high arches – usually cause feet to roll inwards when walking
• Wearing inappropriate footwear for your feet/activity. eg thin soles or lack of arch support
• Wearing high heels frequently – The small base provides a weak support
• Obesity – excess weight bearing on the plantar fascia
• Less common are medical conditions such as Arthritis, Diabetes
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
Most noticeable symptom is pain in the bottom of feet, first thing in the morning when you stand or after periods of sitting or standing. The pain improves as you move and stretch.
Symptoms of pain usually develop gradually over days or weeks, but can come on suddenly or as severe pain. Other symptoms include
• Sharp pain and tenderness at bottom of foot
• Mild swelling around foot and heel
• Pain feels better during exercise, but returns after resting
• Difficulty in flexing your toes towards your shin
How to treat Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis, in most cases can be treated using non-invasive methods with pain significantly alleviated within months of treatment. In general, treatment involves lifestyle changes and altering footwear to provide good support for your plantar fascia. These are first line treatments for Plantar Fasciitis:
1. Limiting or stopping activities that apply pressure and strain to plantar fascia.
2. Stretching the plantar fascia and the calf muscles
3. Applying a cold compress, eg. a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel, against your foot for 20 minutes several times a day
4. Wearing good supportive shoes or custom orthotic devices/ heel insoles
5. Taking painkillers like paracetamol, ibuprofen and steroid injections to reduce inflammation
If first line treatment is ineffective and pain persists, consult a medical practitioner or sports massage therapist.
How Does Sports Massage Help in Faster Recovery of Plantar Fasciitis?
Sports massage effectively heals Plantar fasciitis pain quicker and helps you become pain-free when you stand, walk and run. No more experiencing pain first thing in the morning.
Sports massages such as Myofascial Release, Deep tissue technique and Trigger Point Therapy are effective in relieving foot pain through applying focused pressure and long strokes on the tissues and tendons in your foot and calf. This loosens the muscles and reduces inflammation.
Benefits of Myofascial Sports Massage for Plantar Fasciitis
• Increases blood circulation to the plantar fascia which relieves pain and promotes tissue growth
• Stretches the calf muscles, Achilles tendon & toes to relieve pain
• Loosens tension in the calf muscles & foot
• Targets the deep tissues & massage the tendons connected to the Plantar fascia to promote healing
• Prevents scar tissue formation which in excess restricts mobility of the foot
Consult a sports therapist or qualified professional to diagnose your plantar fasciitis condition and determine the right sports massage for your situation.
Rehabilitation & Prevention of Plantar Fasciitis
Stretching the calf is one of the best treatments for Plantar fasciitis as it helps to ease the pain. At the same time, stretching strengthens the calf muscles which then stabilises the ankle.
Your sports massage therapist will be able to guide you on appropriate stretching exercises and help you stretch during a massage session.
Prevention is always better than cure, so practice good habits to care for your feet and reduce your risk of developing Plantar Fasciitis.
1. Footwear with support
• Wear appropriate footwear with adequate cushioning /arch support / heel support
• If you have severe flat feet or high arches, use custom orthotic devices to improve support
• Perform calf stretching and strengthening exercises
• Warm up & stretching – Before strenuous physical activities, warming up and stretching will help increase flexibility in your muscles and decrease the risk of straining your ligaments
3. Lifestyle factors
• Increase intensity of walking, running and standing gradually to avoid overloading your planar fascia
• Avoid walking barefoot on hard surfaces as it stresses the plantar fascia
• Keep a healthy weight to reduce additional stress on the feet
How to Get Optimal Benefits from Myofascial Sports Massage
Always look for a certified sports massage therapist to perform Myofascial Sports Massage. They should have accreditations and received formal training in Sports Massage to diagnose and treat your condition appropriately. Attempting to perform Myofascial Sports Massage on your own self may further injure your tendon/ ligament if not performed in the correct manner.
It is always best to talk to your sports massage therapist before the myofascial sports massage session. Remember to highlight your plantar fasciitis condition so that your therapist can assess and apply the most suitable massage techniques on you. Your therapist can also focus more attention on your pain area so that you get the most benefits from the massage session.
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