Plantar Fasciatis or pain is often categorised as pain at the bottom of your heel. Often it is the worst in the morning or after you have been stationary for long periods. Most people suffer with this for years, take painkillers and even injections to try and ease the pain.
The simple explanation to plantar fascia pain is that the tissue that’s holds your arches up in your foot in inflamed and overloaded. Most people seem to think the solution is to deload the foot and put it into more ‘padding and support’. This often works for short periods and than it comes back even worse!
What the real issue is?
To answer this question I am going to need to go on a rant and tell you some stories from my clinic, hope you can excuse me!
I spent most of my life avoiding my feet, embarrassed by them and didn’t even know they existed, I used to hide them in my shoes. Now I am obsessed with them and do everything I can to protect them .. They are interlinked to my ankles which have been chronically stiff.
The feet are such an amazing section of the human body. Combined with our hips they are an area of the body that has been butchered by the modern way of living. When was the last time you actually looked at your feet, or even trained barefoot. If you are like me, you hide your feet in shoes and pretend they don’t exist. Unfortatnely ever since 1950 when Bill Bowerman from Nike designed the first shoe with a heel lift we have been wearing footwear that isn’t designed for natural human foot and ankle movement. Footwear in the modern age is to rigid, narrow, lifted in the heels and provide way to much support. The best analogy I have heard is to imagine putting your hands in a oven mit that is designed for a 10 year olds hand. Than wear this mit for 16 hours a day. How would your hand function if this was this case. This is exactly what we are doing to our feet.
Now I finally know why as a physiotherapist I see so much foot dysfunction in the clinic. In fact as I write this chapter I worked with a 9 year old who has been in orthotics since the age of 6. Wearing orthotics and shoes at school and at home has already given him the feet and hips of a 70 year old man. The solution is pretty simple, take his feet out of the orthotics and work to restore natural foot function. Although this goes against the grain, his parents were so grateful someone was looking at their child differently than everyone else.
The truth is it requires a long term mindset and a whole body approach to fix plantar fascia pain for good. For example the way your arches are held up is predominantly determined by your hips.
This means we need to work on your hips and restoring foot strength/mobility.
Below are 3 ways for you to get started without needing expensive equipment.
1: Start rolling the bottom of your foot with a golf or hockey ball, I don’t mean like a pansy either. You only get out of it what you put into it.
2: Reduce the amount of time you spend sitting. This is number one cause of hip dysfunction in the modern age.
3:Start doing calf raises barefoot. This begins the strengthen your arches and big toes. Aim to build up to 3 x 20 reps using single leg.
What to do next
If you have been suffering for quite some time, you have most likely tried orthotics and other practitioners with no long term results. If you are someone looking to really fix things, I strongly recommend you get in touch with a practitioner who understand the foot hip connection and promotes a barefoot lifestyle/rehabilitation plan.
Ben’s Physiotherapy in Woolgoolga is all of the above.
About the Author
Ben Leyson is the only Integrative Physiotherapist on the Mid North Coast. He is trained in Ridgway Method and personally helped over 100 people fix their feet and regain their life.
24 Bosworth Road Woolgoolga, 24 Marcia Street Coffs Harbour I Ben@bensphysiotherapy.com I Woolgoolga’s and Coffs Harbours Only Integrative Physio