The “ouch” starts first thing in the morning, when you get out of bed. The familiar pain shooting up through the heel, or into the arch, that takes a few tender steps to stretch it enough to walk easily. Perhaps it flares up throughout the day after long periods of sitting or standing?
Plantar Fasciitis is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “one of the most common causes of heel pain” caused by “inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes.”1 This so called “Plantar Fascia,” becomes overstretched, due to many factors including aging, weight gain, high-impact/standing activities over long periods of time, or walking patterns and body mechanics. Once overstretched, the sheet of connective tissue, vital for supporting the spring and step of the foot, develops micro-tears, which in turn cause inflammation.
Interestingly, some research suggests that the cause of Plantar Fasciitis may have more to do with collagen degeneration in the fascial tissues (collagen being “the fibrous protein constituent bone, cartilage, tendon, and other connective tissue (ex. Fascia) that converts into gelatin by boiling (Fun Fact!).”2). These micro tears that develop, then, are potentially due to the structural degeneration of the tissue, rather than just stretched or strained fascia.3
Although the cause of Plantar Fasciitis is still not completely understood, bodyworkers have developed effective tools and techniques to help support the healing and management of this condition. We endeavor to alleviate the painful symptoms of the strained foot by working directly on the tissues and intrinsic foot muscles to keep the foot pliant and functioning properly. Also, there are often patterns of tension, perhaps beginning in the foot or leg but oftentimes in a completely different areas of the body, which must be addressed to keep the condition from progressing.
In this same vein, bodyworkers can help with other foot issues like hammertoes, claw/mallet toes, bunions, heel spurs, fallen arches, etc. With over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the foot alone,4 a massage therapist well studied in the anatomy and physiology of the foot becomes an integral part of your wellness and preventative care team.
1Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018) Plantar Fasciitis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/plantar-fasciitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354846.
2”Collagen.”dictionary.com. The American Heritage Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. (2002). 27 January 2018.
3Lemont H, Ammirati KM, Usen N. “Plantar fasciitis: a degenerative process (fasciosis) without inflammation.” Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association. 2003 May-Jun; 93(3):234-7. (2018) www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12756315. 29 January 2018.
4The Arthritis Foundation Staff. (2018) Anatomy of the Foot. www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/where-it-hurts/foot-heel-and-toe-pain/foot-anatomy.php. 29 January 2018.