Plantar fasciitis is a repetitive stress injury to the plantar fascia of the foot. This is a strong tendon that supports the arch of the foot during walking and running. There are several factors that can cause the injury, one of which is also a tight Achilles tendon or tight calf muscles. Other factors include being overweight, overpronating your foot during walking, suddenly increasing milage or intensity while running or other biomechanical factors that cause your plantar fascia to overstretch with each stride.
Healing the injury starts with rest but ends with exercises and stretches that help to prevent the injury from happening again and help the area to strengthen so you can resume your previous level of activities.
Before being pain free it is important to keep the plantar fascia from contracting, or pulling tighter. You can do that by using a night splint to keep the foot stretched during the night.
Stretching the plantar fascia
Once you are pain free you can start gently stretching the foot during the day. Before getting out of bed in the morning use a towel around the ball of the foot. Pull the ends gently to pull the foot toward your head. This will stretch the plantar fascia out gently instead of suddenly stretching and tearing it when you put your foot down on the floor in the morning.
You can massage the bottom of the foot by either using a golf ball and rolling that around on the floor under your foot, or using a frozen bottle of water to both massage the bottom of the foot and ice it at the same time. This helps to break up the tissue gently so you don’t develop adhesions in the tendon.
It is also important to stretch the Achilles tendon. If this tendon is tight it will increase the probability that your arch flattens during your stride and overstretches your plantar fascia. Stretch the Achilles by standing on one leg and place the opposite leg behind with the toes pointed to the heel of the foot on the ground. Lean into a wall while bending the front leg and keeping the back knee straight. Hold this for a count of 10. Repeat on the other leg.
You can stretch the Achilles and Plantar fascia with this simple stretch. Stand straight, holding to the back of a chair for support. Place your right leg on the floor, knee straight. Bring your left leg in front of your body and pull to the right, feel your arch in the right foot pull up. Then move the left leg around behind the right leg and bend the right knee. Feel your arch press into the ground. Do this 2-3 times and then repeat with the other leg.
As this becomes easier you can increase the level of intensity by doing it without holding on to anything and maintaining your balance with your legs and foot.
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