By Anne Marie Allen Reflexologist and massage therapist
Do you have heel pain? Its possibly plantar fasciitis (the most common cause of heel pain).
Plantar Fasciitis is a condition in which the plantar fascia has becomes damaged, inflamed and thickened at the point where it attaches to the calcaneus bone.
So what exactly does this mean?
The calcaneus bone is more commonly known as the heel. Along the sole of the foot is a sheet of connective tissue known as a ligament this is called the plantar fascia it runs from the heel, connecting the heel to the toes helping to support the arch of the foot as well as acting as a shock absorber for the foot, when this band becomes damaged at the point where it attaches to the heel bone it can become inflamed and thickened causing pain.
One in ten people will experience plantar fasciitis at some point in their life.
So what causes it?
Plantar fasciitis can be caused by:
- • Sudden damage from an activity such as jogging, dancing etc
- • Gradual wear and tear
Certain situations can increase your likelihood of developing Plantar Fasciitis these are things such as:
- • Being on your feet a lot especially if you’re not used to it
- • Recently starting a new exercise routine or changing exercise venue e.g. jogging on the road instead of a tread mill
- • Shoes with poor cushioning or ache support
- • Being overweight
- • Overuse or sudden stretching of the sole of the foot
- • Having a tight Achilles tendon, this is the tendon at the bottom of the calf, can effect a person’s ability to flex the foot increasing the likelihood of damaging the plantar fasciitis
- • Wearing flat shoes e.g. sandals
- • Having a job that means spending a lot of time on your feet
What are the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
- • Pain on the foot this can be anywhere but is typically just in front of the heel (4cm ish)
- • Pain is worse in the morning when just getting up or after sitting down for long periods
- • Pain can be worse after going for a long walk or after being on your feet for a long period
- • Sudden stretching can make the pain worse
- • Going on tip toes or walking up stairs can make pain worse
- • Plantar fasciitis can be in both feet at the same time
- • Area of pain can appear visibly swollen
What if I just ignore it?
Continuing as you always have and ignoring the plantar fasciitis can result in:
- • Chronic heel pain that stops you living your normal life
- • Extra foot problems
- • Knee, hip or back problems can develop as a result of compensating for the plantar fasciitis
So how can it be treated?
As well as visiting the doctor for an official diagnosis and medication there are several natural ways that can help to speed the recovery of your Plantar Fasciitis as it can sometimes take up to a year for Plantar Fasciitis to get better.
- • Rest as much as possible, avoiding long periods on your feet and long walks
- • Supportive shoes that cushion the heel
- • Avoid flat shoes
- • Orthoses – insoles these are available from shops such as sports shops, pharmacies
- • Strapping and splinting: strapping the heel with sports tape can help with the pressure on the heel, your GP or podiatrist can show you how to strap and splint your foot so that you can do it at home
- • Stretching, stretches that stretch both the calf and the plantar fasciitis can help to improve flexibility and relieve pain, even if just one foot is effected try to do the stretches described below with both feet to ensure balance
A good stretch to do before getting out of bed in the morning so before going to bed put a long towel somewhere handy that you’ll be able to reach it.\Loop the towel around your foot and gently use it to pull your toes towards your body. Keep the knee straight repeat three times for each foot.
This can be done anywhere, any time even whilst you’re waiting for the kettle to boil! Put both hands on the wall, shoulder height. Put one foot in front of the other the front foot should be about 30cm (12”) away from the wall. Keeping the back leg straight, bend the front knee and lean into the wall, you should feel a stretch in the calf muscle hold for a few seconds, now relax.
Repeat ten times before switching legs; if possible try to do this stretch twice a day.
Stand on the bottom step of your stairs facing the stairs, feet slightly apart, heels hanging off the step. Holding on to the rail for support, lower your heels, you should be able to feel the calves tighten. Hold for a count of 40.
Return to the starting position and repeat six times
Sitting on a chair with your knees at right angles move your feet so that your heels are touching but the toes are pointing away from each other. The heels should be kept flat on the floor. Lift the toes upwards, ensuring that the heel remains on the floor, you should be able to feel the Achilles tendon and calf muscle tighten, hold for several seconds before relaxing. Repeat ten times.
Try to do this stretch whenever you sit down aiming to repeat it about five or six times a day, when your having a cup of tea or whilst your watching TV are good times to give it a try.
Sitting down roll the arch of the foot over an object such as tennis ball, can of beans or a drinks can, if you use a drinks can you can put it in the fridge so that’s it’s lovely and cold, some people find that the coldness of the can helps relieve the pain. Roll the arch of the foot over the object for several minutes & repeat this exercise twice a day.
Can complimentary therapies help?
Reflexology is a wonderful treatment as its so relaxing but it can also be beneficial to Plantar Fasciitis because it stretches and relieves heel pain as well as helping to release muscle and foot tension. During this wonderful treatment ligaments and muscles in the calf and foot are relaxed and loosened, circulation is boosted, flexibility is improved and the bodies systems are healed and balanced and returned to normal, this can be helpful on many levels especially if an overactive immune system is causing problems.
Combined with a leg massage to help release tension in the Achilles tendon and leg muscles, massage can also help break scar tissue, loosen muscles as well as helping to remove toxins from the muscles and ensuring that circulation of blood and oxygen is boosted and improved.
So which one do I choose Reflexology or Massage?
The good news is you don’t have to choose one; I do a wonderful treatment which combines a full Reflexology treatment with a full Leg Massage especially to help give relief.
You can book here: Reflexology with massage
you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org