Self Treatment For Plantar Fasciitis

Jul 27th, 2011

Category: Barefoot Running

Self Treatment For Plantar Fasciitis

Austin Massage, Massage therapy austin, deep tissue massage austin, austin deep tissue massage, massage austin texas, austin back pain massageOver the past week, I have seen a “mini-epidemic” — two new clients and email correspondence with a third — of a common but painful foot injury, plantal fasciitis. Living in Austin, with such an active outdoors culture, plantar fasciitis is one of the more common issues I treat. It is also one of the most common foot injuries in the United States.  As reported by Pubmed, two million Americans suffer from plantar fasciitis each year and 10% of the population over a lifetime.Plantar fasciitis involves pain of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue located on the bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone and extends along the sole of the foot towards the five toes. Its function is to help maintain the arch of the foot, and it acts as a powerful spring with a fundamental role in shock absorption and forward propulsion.
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Plantar fasciitis develops gradually and commonly starts as a dull, intermittent pain in the heel, mid-sole, or near the toes. The pain is worse early in the morning and tends to ease up once you move around a bit. When untreated it can progress to a sharp or stabbing pain. It may hurt when climbing stairs or after standing for long periods of time.   It is common for someone with plantar fasciitis to also suffer from knee pain. Plantar fasciitis can become a chronic condition that plagues people for years.Plantar fasciitis is caused by stress to the soft tissue that supports the arch of the foot. It is possible to develop plantar fasciitis from an acute injury, although it is far more commonly a result of repetitive trauma to the foot from walking or running with poor gait mechanics.Austin Barefoot Running, Austin deep tissue massage therapy, Austin running barefoot, barefoot running austin, barefoot runnerThe arch of the foot acts like a shock-absorbing spring. With proper walking or running mechanics, the arch absorbs and releases the impact of each step, preventing damage to the knees and hips. The problem that most people have is that they heel strike, a dysfunctional gait pattern developed due to previous injury or poor shoe selection.  When you heel strike, you bypass the natural spring of the arch, and the impact of each step is driven through your heel. This causes an ongoing series of micro traumas directly to the heel — where the plantar fascia attaches — and through the soft tissue of the knee and hip. The repeated stress and strain from each step you take can cause tiny tears in the ligaments and tendons and build restriction in the calf muscles.

Overweight individuals are more at risk of developing the condition due to the excess weight impacting on the foot.

Treatment
There is no one single treatment for plantar fasciitis that works for everybody. I have had great success using a few different treatments together. I see the best results — by far — with deep tissue massage therapy. On average it takes three or four massage sessions for a client to be pain free.  When my clients do self-myofascial release, flexibility and corrective exercise, and buy new shoes, they generally are able to get back into the activities they love within a matter of weeks.If you do not have access to a skilled deep tissue massage therapist, you can utilize the following tools to help bring relief, although it may take a few weeks longer to get to 100%.Self Myofascial Release:

Following the directions in the pictures below, place your body weight on the foam roller or ball over taut bands of muscle tissue that need to be released. For the best results, begin near the center of the body and slowly work away from the center of the body.

Relax your body, breathe, and slowly roll through the length of the muscle. Your muscles will naturally tense up, especially when you hit a trigger point.  Ease into it and allow yourself to relax.

If you find a painful spot, stop and visualize the soft tissue as melting butter and the foam roller as a hot knife. Allow pressure into the tissue and within 30-60 seconds you will notice a significant reduction in pain. Once the pain reduces (20-30%), move on to the next painful spot and repeat.

Spend between 3-5 minutes on each side. It is very important that you spend an equal amount of time on both sides and that you work through each of the areas listed to gain the most out of self-myofascial release.

Arch

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Use a small ball, such as a golf ball.

Calves
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Place foam roller beneath calves. Slowly roll from the ankles to the knees

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Turn your body to work the inside and outside of the calves.

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Use a soft ball to perform self-trigger point therapy

Hips
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Place roller length-wise to your body. Bend your knee to 90 degrees with your inner thigh on the roller.

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Place roller beneath the top of the hip bone. Lie with one hip on the roller. Opposite hip is off the roller.

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Sit on the roller. Turn your body to one side. Massage through the entire gluteal area from the crack of your butt to the outside of your hip, top of the pelvis to the top of the thigh.

Stretch calves using a foam wedge
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Using a foam wedge, press heel into the ground and actively straighten your knee. Stretch to slight discomfort, NOT pain. Hold for 1-3 minutes each stretch

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Using a foam wedge, press heel into the ground and bend knee down and forward. Stretch to slight discomfort, NOT pain. Hold for 1-3 minutes each stretch

Because the way you walk or run is a large contributing factor, changing your shoe selection and changing the way you walk and run are huge keys to fixing the problems that caused plantar fasciitis.Read What Happens to Our Foot When We Wear Traditional Running Shoes by Dr. Nicholas Campitelli to learn more about how shoes change your gait.

This is the foam roller I recommend: The Grid by Trigger Point Therapy

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DISCUSSION 40 Comments

  1. Michele Murphy-Smith July 28, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Thanks Jesse – this is really good info. Generous of you to share about self treatment!

    • jjreth July 28, 2011 at 11:43 am

      Thank you Michelle. There is so much that people can do to treat pain and injury that would prevent some of the debilitating issues I end up treating. Please help spread the word.
      Jesse James Retherford
      http://www.tao-fit.com

  2. Michael McGillicuddy July 28, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    I like this article. Very nice pictures to show self-care.

  3. joanne freedman ncmt July 29, 2011 at 6:01 am

    jesse,
    you write beautifully…and so well put, thank you for the share!
    joanne

  4. Janice Valverde July 29, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Having suffered from plantar fasciitis myself, and now treating clients who are dealing with it, I very much appreciate this info. I will save this and refer client to it. I am also a big fan of Brad Walker’s “The Stretching Institute.” Are you familiar with it? http://www.thestretchinghandbook.com/

  5. Annet Meijer July 30, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Jesse, i like your article!
    Being a PT and teacher fysio-pilates( adapted to the latest scientificly proven insights), also using the method dynamic-stabilisation-excersises, i know that the fascial system is one of the the most importent factors in supporting of the whole body.
    Excersises together with deep soft tissue-massage gives us a graet possibily to treat all kinds of injuries and prevent them. I myself have used the ball under the foot excersise (standing) in a mild form to get someone “into” their body and it works.
    I like the way you put the “mindthing” to step into the pain, so the client can follow which is essencial to succeed.
    It is great you showed the possibilty how clients can do something themselves!Thank you for sharing, I will certainly use it for my own clients.

    Annet Meijer -Amsterdam NL

    • jjreth July 31, 2011 at 9:42 am

      Hi Annet,
      Thank you for the positive feedback. I am happy to hear this information is helpful. I am amazed at the fascial body and how it interconnects and interrelates to all the other systems. Have you read Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers? His book is a fascinating look at the fascial system. I highly recommend it.
      Jesse James Retherford
      http://www.tao-fit.com

      • Annet Meijer August 5, 2011 at 10:24 am

        Hi Jesse,

        I heard of the book Anatomity Trains and now I actually bought it too. and you are absolutely right : it’s GREAT! Thank you for reminding me.
        By the way for the bal under the foot I use a squashbal and find it very
        satisfactory.

        Annet Meijer

      • Michelle Wald PT, LMT August 15, 2011 at 9:36 pm

        I know that Tom Myers is all the rage at the moment and his concepts are good though they tend to be generic, just like most of what is going on out there (one size fits all). Tom Myers studied with Judith Aston who worked directly with Ida Rolf back in the day. Judith has developed a very sophisticated body of work which is very detailed and complete as far as assessment, movement, amazing deep tissue work without the pain. Judith was given the blessings of Ida herself. You are obviously intelligent and interested in learning; you pay attention to detail and so I think you you may really enjoy the Aston-Kinetics classes, some of which are offered right here in Austin TX. Coming in Oct 2011 http://www.astonkinetics.com let me know if you are interested and we can chat more about it

        • jjreth August 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm

          Thanks Michelle,
          I will look into Aston-Kinetics. I am enrolled in Anatomy Trains next month, so doing another ce course in October isn’t going to happen. I will keep it on my radar for the next time though. I would absolutely love chatting with you more about it.
          Jesse James Retherford
          http://www.tao-fit.com

  6. Amber Davies August 2, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Jesse,
    Great article! You might find using a 35mm hi-bounce ball on the bottom of the foot even more useful. It is about the size of a golf ball but it is a little softer and less likely to get away. They can be found in gum ball machines or in toy stores. Of course, not everyone can start out using this size ball. If it is too intense use a larger ball (45mm or 60mm).
    Amber Davies

    • jjreth August 4, 2011 at 6:11 am

      Thanks Amber,
      That sounds like a great trigger point suggestion. I will get one next time I see a gum ball machine. It is amazing the number of inexpensive items you can use for self massage. I’ve been using a miniature pool table ball that I found for my feet. I have a feeling the hi-bounce ball would be even better.
      Jesse James Retherford
      http://www.tao-fit.com

    • Charlene Gaffney November 19, 2011 at 8:12 am

      The hi bounce ball is interesting. Bit more focused of a tool than my following remedy…have you ever used a soda can at night before bed to reduce inflammation before bedtime?

      • jjreth November 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm

        Hi Charlene,

        I find that the combination of a foam roller and a ball to be ideal for treating fascia and reducing inflammation. I have heard of people using a soda can with effectiveness.

        Jesse James Retherford
        http://www.tao-fit.com

  7. Dee August 5, 2011 at 7:50 am

    I loved this article with the self-help article. I have a client who travels a lot and having self-help articles is perfect! Great info with great pics!

  8. Kerrie August 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    I would be interested in where you get your information about heel strike being an ‘abnormal’ gait component. I am a physical therapist and I was taught heel strike is a normal (if transient) phase of the human gait pattern in both walking and running. Do you have a clinical reference on this?

    • jjreth August 8, 2011 at 8:39 pm

      Hi Kerrie,
      Thanks for the response. Unfortunately there is very little clinical evidence of the benefit of barefoot running/walking. Most studies on walking/running have been funded by shoe companies over the past 30 years. Non of which has proven the benefit to heel strike in gait pattern. As far as the clinical science goes, both are left to theory and opinion. There is a ton of non clinical evidence as to the benefit of barefoot training. Most of the information I use comes from my studies on human biomechanics, therapeutic work with clients, and personal experimentation. When I look at the structure of the foot, heel strike just doesn’t make sense. And when I work directly on clients, I can feel the dysfunctional patterns that have developed from years of poor gait patterns in their fascia. Everything traces from the foot to the hips and back to the foot.

      I will be writing more on shoes and gait pattern. Hopefully, I will convey my opinion on the subject well, and would be happy to receive your feedback.

      Below are a few videos of a Harvard professor who studies human evolution, specifically barefoot running/walking.

      http://www.barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu/
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jrnj-7YKZE
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l12MAyBO5Vc
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DRoeioFCrA
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bueIBxuC1dA

      Thanks again for the feedback.
      Jesse James
      http://www.tao-fit.com

  9. Krista August 9, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Great info! Thanks so much. I’ve been dealing with this issue and it is great to have some new ideas for home remedies.

  10. Krista August 9, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Is there a way to print this?

  11. Krista August 9, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    I’m in the DC area. I’m a personal trainer and figure competitor, and I run from time to time since my husband is a marathoner.

  12. Jennifer August 11, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Hi All,
    Another great way to get rid of this horrible pain is through Sole Training, which was created by Stacey Lei Krauss – she is really the only person who has been focused on barefoot training for 12 years!

    Check it out: https://www.willpowermethod.com/sole-training

    It’s a self-massage and foot strengthening series…train your body, remember you have feet and train them as well!

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  15. jessica September 27, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Am I glad that I met you! The articles you write so simply put is just awesome. True, a lot of people suffer from so many pains that they probably should not be feeling if they only gave their bodies a little more attention.

    I agree with Michelle that you are obviously intelligent and interested in learning…however, two things that I really appreciate are:

    1- your gift of generosity = you are so nice to share your knowledge and access to information! I like the way you take time to encourage comments and reply to people…

    2- your gift of expression = you are able to write articles in a manner that is friendly and easy to read, welcome people to read, take part and eventually follow you!

    As learning is a continuous process, and there is always something to learn from each other, your writings encourage me to SHARE them with other people – I hope that is alright with you? I would so love for more of my clients and friends to know you and learn from you.

  16. Rina Durville -de Wit November 17, 2011 at 12:33 am

    I am working with foot and some leg injuries this way.
    If the client is in great pain I give Bowen therapy and ad the ball after the session. I also use those little spiky balls (cat toy`s).
    With special Pilates exercise we make the foot and leg stronger and correct the gain if its necessary.

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  19. Alexander Nestoiter August 29, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Rolling a golf ball under your foot while sitting provides too little pressure. If you do this while standing and apply more weight on the ball, the pressure will be to intense and can even hurt the participant. For something in between Google nestoiter-gravity rock pillow and foot massager black bar. Both products the rock pillow and the bar provide a measurable and reliable way to apply pressure on the soles of your feet, thus getting massage via gravity, while standing.
    Overall it’s a good article. No pushy sales pitches, no urging claims to buy custom orthotics or “supportive” shoes as the only remedy for the problem. I like when doctors offer do-it-yourself suggestions. Thank you.

    • jjreth September 8, 2012 at 5:55 am

      Hi Alexander,

      Thanks for the comment. I have no problem with getting enough pressure rolling a golf ball under my foot while seated. And I can control the pressure just fine while standing. And comparing a cheap golf ball to a $300 pillow, I feel the golf ball will provide greater relief at a more reasonable price.

      Jesse James Retherford
      http://www.tao-fit.com

  20. Uday October 14, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Jesse, I started reading your blog after I attended one of your REI session very recently. Thanks a lot for all your Very informative articles.

    I now think I have Plantar Fasciitis. My heels (middle to back) used to hurt, but only when I stand still…I can walk whole day without any pain, but could not stand for few minutes. My lower back hurts too, but not too bad.

    I went through deep tissue massages (Airrosti – only temporary help for heel, but almost completely recovered from uppers back and elbow issues), started walking bare foot at home, and wearing Vibram five fingers and flipflops. Not hitting the heel any more. But, after all these changes, the pain has moved from heel to close to the arch and it always hurts. Some morning are pain free and some are not. And I observed that if I wake up with sore back, I also feel pain in the heels and they pop after taking first couple of steps, which gives me great relief. Sitting in soft sofa and getting up give me pain. Calves are always sour, but I feel it only when I put pressure with my hands. I do use foam roll (i do several you demonstrated above) and balls, but still the pain never goes away (sore spots in calves, around knees and all around upper thighs). May be my gait is wrong? or while trying to fix one issue and I got another? What else I should do or which specialist to visit? BTW, most of the pain is with left foot. Right foot has pain, but as much as left foot.

    Also, two of my friends has severe burning pain all around the edges of his both feet! He visited many specialist including podiatric Dr. Podiatric Dr says lower back issues might be causing the pain in both feet, but so far nobody could get to the root cause. Have you seen anyone with this problem?

    Please keep your great articles coming.

    -Uday

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