by Diana Khoury
Plantar fasciitis (pronounced “plantar fash-ee-itis”) is an inflammation of the plantar fascia – the long, flat ligament that runs along the sole of the foot. The plantar fascia extends from the five toes, down through the arch and attaches to the heel. Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain in the heel and/or arches and tightness of the calves. Plantar fasciitis causes pain while walking or exercising and can significantly impact one’s daily functioning if left untreated.
Plantar fasciitis occurrence may be classified as an acute strain or a repetitive stress injury.1 Factors which can contribute to plantar fasciitis are:
- Abnormal step (sinking towards the inner or outer edge of arches)
- Tight calves and feet
- Improper athletic training
- High, low, or flat arches
- Foot weakness
- Shoes that fit incorrectly
- Prolonged walking, standing, or athletics
“Plantar fasciitis is basically caused by chronic irritation of the arch of the foot due to excessive strain. If the arch of your foot is like a bow, think of the plantar fascia as the bow’s string. The plantar fascia, along with several muscles both in the foot and in the leg, supports the arch and makes it springy. Too springy, and the foot flattens out, overstretching the plantar fascia. Not springy enough, and the plantar fascia absorbs too much weight too suddenly.”2
Plantar fasciitis should be diagnosed by a medical professional. After proper evaluation (of patient’s foot structure, shoes, activity level), a treatment plan often includes rest, ice, ibuprofen, stretching exercises, new shoes, arch supports, or more expensive options such as orthotics, night splints, or cortisone injections. Surgery is recommended only in the worst cases where conventional treatments are unsuccessful.
If you experience pain in your heel(s) or arches, or have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, regular stretching can help. According to one study, 83% of patients in a stretching program were successfully treated for plantar fasciitis, and 29% of study participants cited stretching as the most helpful treatment.3
The objective of a plantar fasciitis treatment plan is to reduce pain and prevent reoccurrence, so the patient can resume a normal activity level. Treatment may last from 6-18 months for pain to be significantly reduced or eliminated. Consistency in following treatment protocols is essential for successful healing and pain reduction.
Acupuncture and Massage
Research has proven acupuncture to be successful at reducing the pain and inflammation of plantar fasciitis when paired with conventional treatment. A PubMed abstract says, “acupuncture coupled with conventional treatments provided a success rate of 80% in chronic plantar fasciitis which was more effective than conventional treatments alone. The effects lasted for at least six weeks.”4
Massage is another complementary method for relieving the pain of plantar fasciitis. “Deep tissue massage loosens muscle tissue, removes muscle toxins, and ensures proper circulation of blood and oxygen to the injured area. Deep tissue massage works because it physically breaks down the adhesions that are formed by tissues in the muscles caused by over exertion or strain.”5 As a result, the patient experiences less pain and increased ease when walking, standing, and participating in daily activities. Although lasting treatment takes time, patients have reported feeling partial to full relief from the pain of plantar fasciitis after a series of massage sessions.
This is an original article from Dreamclinic, Inc. Dreamclinic is a Health and Wellness company committed to sharing information about commonly experienced health conditions and how they may be impacted through the use of bodywork and other natural approaches. Dreamclinic offers massage, acupuncture, and Reiki sessions at its Greenlake and Queen Anne clinics, as well as onsite massage at workplaces around Puget Sound. Contact us to learn more about how Dreamclinic can help you, your family or your workplace experience greater health.
3. “Plantar Fasciitis is a Common Cause of Heel Pain,” Healthlink/Medical College of Wisconsin. April 12, 2001. http://healthlink.mcw.edu/article/987116429.html