Let’s break these two latin words down. Plantar refers to the sole or bottom of the foot and fasciitis refers to irritated or inflamed fascia which is the fibrous sheet-like connective tissue that surrounds the muscles in the body. Remember that “-itis” means something is inflamed or irritated, so plantar fasciitis means the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot is irritated.
As with most problems, a correct diagnosis is crucial. Other problems in the foot which may masquerade as plantar fasciitis include fractures, tarsal tunnel syndrome, metatarsalgia and S1 radiculopathies among others. Come in for a clinical evaluation to be sure your plan for treatment is correct.
You are at increased risk for plantar fasciitis if you have a history of flat-feet, foot pronation, tight calf muscles, are obese or wear unsupportive shoes. So what’s the answer? First learn more about your feet and what is “normal” or healthy alignment and what you can do if yours are a little bit off. In addition to the use of shoe inserts, take time to address the other risk factors that are in your control. If your weight is less then ideal, spend time developing a plan to lose weight. If you have tight calves, use our lower leg flexibility program to normalize muscle tone and improve range of motion. There is a lot you can do.
Our two favorite at home tips for plantar fasciitis are toe-towel exercises and the frozen water bottle. While seated barefoot, place a small towel on the ground. Place your foot on the towel and pick it up with your toes. Raise it a few inches off the floor and then drop it. Repeat this about 20 times, twice a day. This simple exercise helps strengthen the “intrinsic” or small inner muscles in the foot. As they get stronger, the muscles help support the foot more and reduce the stress on the plantar fascia. Our second tip is to take a 10-12 oz plastic water bottle like you might buy at the corner store. Empty about 2 oz of water and recap the bottle, remove the label and then freeze the bottle until solid. While seated, place the frozen water bottle under the foot that hurts right in the arch area. Then roll your foot back and forth over the frozen bottle. This will help stretch out the fascia while also reducing swelling and irritation with the ice.
To learn more about plantar fasciitis or to schedule a consultation, contact us.