Why, you might ask, should I take plantar fasciitis seriously? Most early symptoms are not much more than an inconvenience, a dull annoyance in the heel.
Although the condition is referred to as an “itis”, plantar fasciitis is actually a form of tendinosis; a condition that results in necrosis. Necrosis refers to tissue death, and plantar fasciitis is a degeneration of collagen that leads to eroding and death of the fascia. The tissue is not just hurting; it’s dying! And that’s why we should pay attention.
The plantar fascia is a strong thick, broad, inelastic band of longitudinally-oriented connective tissue that runs from its origin on the medial tubercle of the calcaneus to its insertion on the proximal phalanges and flexor sheathes. Healthy plantar fascia serves as a shock-absorbing bowstring to support the longitudinal arch of the foot.
Plantar fasciitis is a degeneration of this fascia, characterized by pain, thickening and sometimes inflammation in the early stages. It develops from overuse and stress, resulting in fatigue and micro-tearing of the tissue.
The classic symptom reported by sufferers of this stubborn condition is “morning pain”: intense, sharp, stabbing, burning pain in the heel upon weight bearing after extended rest.
There are so many factors credited to the development of plantar fasciitis that it can make your head spin! To make matters worse, some of the contributing forces listed in medical journals seem to contradict themselves. As an example, the following are named as “root causes” of plantar fasciitis: high arches/low arches; tight calf muscles/loose calf muscles; supination of the foot/pronation of the foot; going barefoot/wearing shoes. Add to that: weight gain, sudden increase in activity level, excessive external rotation of the hip joint (while walking), laterial tibial torsion, age, gender, heel spurs, knee pain, bone tumors, and/or femoral anteversion (leading to internal hip rotation), and you have a very complex picture of biomechanical explanations from which to determine the cause. The biomechanical variables are not even limited to the foot and lower leg. They continue right up to the lower spine.
Regardless of the cause, the most important treatment strategy for plantar fasciitis begins with a committed daily home regime of rest and ice (lots of both) and stretching. Over the many years I spent working with people with plantar fasciitis (and recovering from my own bout with it), I found that even the most stubborn of cases responds favorably and quickly to a combination of reflexology (either conventional or Thai), stretching, and release of impingement of the peripheral nervous system along the S1 nerve pathway.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of foot pain for which professional care is sought. The success my clients received from my customized session (combined with faithful observance of their “homework”) actually changed the direction of my clinical practice. I became known as the “go-to person” in my town when your feet hurt. I built an entire practice around helping people with foot pain due to plantar fasciitis – and you can, too.
In the training Plantar Fasciitis: Prevention and Protocol participants explore the predisposing factors and causes of plantar fasciitis; learn the assessment skills necessary to rule out other common foot pathologies; determine a successful course of action based on individual client history and symptoms; practice a 60-minute hands-on session based in foot reflexology; develop a self-care program to repair and prevent further occurrences; and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of medical interventions such as NSAIDs, corticosteroid injections, ultrasound, prolotherapy, extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) and surgical fasciotomy.
There is one training available still this year in Gainesville, Florida on July 9th and 10th. Beginning the end of August, I will fly to Canada to present the plantar fasciitis workshop in Vancouver, Regina, Toronto and Halifax.