Recently I have had a few athletes ask me what is the best way of dealing with Plantar Fasciitis, I have put together a few ideas to help deal with this common injury.
When looking at the causes of plantar fasciitis there are a few common complaints from most athlete. These include a chronic pain on the sole of the foot, the sole of the foot often being very tender to touch. As a result most athletes suffering from plantar fasciitis are really hindered in their ability to train at maximal capacity. Dealing with Plantar Fasciitis is in my eyes a gradual process, and you should involve implementing a number of things in your every day training activity and recovery. Not only will this improve dealing with Plantar Fasciitis, but help prevent it before it occurs. Imagine the arch of the foot functions like a bow (as in a bow and arrow), and the plantar fascia is like the string of the bow. The tension in the “bow string” holds the shape of the arch. Every time you step, the “bow string” stretches, and when stretched too hard and too often, it gets irritated, and problems will arise. The plantar fascia can become irritated when it is stretched too much and too often and becomes over worked or elongated. It however can also be contracted too much too often and becomes short and over worked. So excessive stretching and contraction can lead to what is known as Plantar Fasciitis. The plantar fascia must be at the optimal length to function optimally. Lots of people & health professionals are not even aware of the basic evidence-based formula for plantar fasciitis rehab, prescribing a foot rub is nice, and in fact it can help a little, but massage therapy is actually one of the least effective of the common therapies for plantar fasciitis (PF). The research is riddled with contradictions and there are often several contributing factors that can cause Plantar Fasciitis. So lets look at how we can reduce the risk and try to heal it. Firstly let’s stop doing things that will aggravate it (away from your chosen sporting activity as this is often not an option for the professional or aspiring professional athlete.)
- Stop wearing high heels, I don’t care how sexy you might look in them, and how well they go with your outfit, STOP IT. Reason being, you need to stretch and loosen calf muscle tissue and fascia and heels will negate this. They will also limit dorsey flexion (the movement you make when you point your foot up from the floor) of the ankle which can contribute to reduced dorsey mobility and chronic shortening of the plantar fascia (as noted above a cause of PF).
- Stop wearing sandals (especially thong sandals) when you wear sandals you have tendency to grip the sandal with your toes on each step again causing a shortening of the plantar fascia and continually aggravating it. This gripping on every step will lead to a shortening of the PF and as a result cause problems.
Some easy solutions to try
- Foam roll ALOT, especially calf and hamstrings. Tight calf’s are a common cause of PF.
- Walk as much as possible in bare feet (this will strengthen the structure of the foot and make it more resilient to chronic shortening or lengthening of the plantar fascia). and thus improve Plantar fascia function.
- Strengthen the hamstring and calf musculature
- Lengthen (stretch) the hamstring and calf musculature
- Stretch the plantar fascia
- Roll the plantar fascia with a tennis ball or something stronger (golf ball)
- Post game/practice roll on a frozen glass vodka bottle (vodka wont freeze so wont crack the bottle). Or try freezing a golf ball as well.
- Strengthen the toes to improve the integrity of the feet and thus improve plantar fascia function.
- Stretch the toes (Check out some yoga toes to help with this).
Below are some pictures of some simple things you can do to help with plantar fasciitis. (excuse the lack of professional photography)
Strengthen and stretch your toes.
Stretch the Plantar Fascia
Roll out your Calf’s and PF
Stretch the calf
Post practice/game recovery
Thanks for reading and should you have any comments or thoughts just add them below.