Are you or someone you know plagued by a mysterious pain in the arch of your foot? (Sounds like the start of an attorney’s commercial.) Is it a sharp pain that starts in the heel and is usually worse when you get out of bed in the morning? Is the tip of your heel tender to the touch, or does it hurt the arch of your foot to bend back your big toe? If you answered yes, you may be suffering from something called plantar fasciitis.
Anatomically, fascia is fibrous, connective tissue that surrounds our muscles, blood vessels and nerves. Physiologically, it is there to either bind some of our internal structures together or to allow various structures to slide smoothly over one another. Specifically, our plantar fascia runs on the bottom (or plantar side) of our feet, from our heel to a row of bones before the toes called the meta-tarsals.
For various reasons this fascia can become strained or stretched leading to inflammation, irritation and pain. It accounts for approximately 15% of all adult foot pain cases and is prevalent in 10% of runners (noted as the second most common overuse injury of the foot). If you suffer from this or would like to take proactive steps to prevent this, here is a list of tips to help you out:
1) DROP THE WEIGHT
Obesity is a risk factor for the origination and sustainment of this condition. This one is fairly simple to comprehend. If you’re packing more pounds, there is more of a load to bear on your body, including the arches of your feet.
2) PRONATION MAY NOT BE THE ISSUE
Many of you have probably heard the term “pronation” before. This is actually a natural and necessary process that occurs when we walk or run in order to transfer the load, provide more balance and optimal position for the big toe to effectively push off.
Prior to placing too much stock in a previous “pronator” label, one should look to strengthen and stabilize the hips, glutes and muscles of the foot (particularly the flexor hallicus brevis) in order to more efficiently and evenly distribute the load.
3) TAKE A SEAT
Activities that require spending a long time on your feet can also lead to and/or aggravate plantar fasciitis. This is a similar mechanism to the obesity problem. More time on the feet equals more of a load being transferred and absorbed by the feet. Now, if you’re flat footed, overweight and on your feet all the time, you’re obviously increasingly susceptible to this issue.
Other risk factors noted include poor arch support in your shoes, limited dorsiflexion of the foot and tight hamstrings. While Clarke Chiropractic and Wellness (and many other manual practitioners) can assist you in increasing the dorsiflexion in your foot and loosening up those hamstrings, the use of various shoe inserts to address pronation and arch support should be pursued with caution.
Make sure you see a professional who has the technology to scan your foot and design an insert tailor made to your unique foot. Going the cheap route and picking up an insert from the Wal-Mart can cause more harm than good.
If the preceding pointers don’t do the trick, or you feel as though you are beyond the point of these “do it yourself” measures, there is good news. An estimated 95% of plantar fasciitis cases respond to conservative care. Even more uplifting is the fact that there is a manual method of stripping the fascia that I have personally utilized on numerous patients with outstanding results. If you’re tired of the constant pain and discomfort and would like to try a fresh approach, please feel free to contact me and we’ll work to together in an attempt to resolve the issue.
In related news, I am excited to announce that Clarke Chiropractic and Wellness will be accepting appointments within the next couple of weeks. The updated contact information will be found at the top right corner of the page. I thank you all for following the website and look forward to working together in the future.