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Plantar Fasciitis

Big name for a pain in the foot! Plantar Fasciitis is an inflammation of a bit of tissue that extends forward from your heel. That’s essentially what “Plantar Fasciitis” means in Latin. The Plantar Fascia encapsulates the muscles in the sole of your foot.

How do you know you have it? Well, if your first steps in the morning are painful and involve mincing steps so as not to have anything touch your arch… well, you’ve probably got a case of PF.

Left untreated this inflammation can result in heel spurs which are deposits of calcium at the spot where the Plantar Fascia connects to the heel bone.

It may seem strange that this foot problem can be treated by Stretching the calf muscle. But look at it as an exercise in physics – the two systems acting as a lever – and you can see that by strengthening the one (calf muscle) you are actually relieving tension on the other (Plantar Fascia).
There is a handy device on the market called a Pro-Stretch. It actually was invented for ankle injuries but it really does isolate the calf muscles and provides a great Stretch for them and for the PF. Or you can do the traditional bracing of the foot against a curb or a stair.

At the extreme end, night splints might be called for. These keep your feet at a certain angle while you sleep and act to Stretch the calf muscles while relieving tension on the Plantar Fascia.

Rest and icing are great treatments, but don’t overdo the rest, or make sure that you Stretch, because the PF can atrophy and that’s not a good thing.


Other causes of PF:

  • Running on hard surfaces.
  • Old or poorly fitting shoes.
  • Sometimes PF is caused by a lack of arch support, and orthotics may be called for.
  • Beginning runners who are overweight are often prone to suffering from Plantar Fasciitis. Losing weight does help somewhat to relieve the problem. The Plantar Fascia faces tension that can be up to two times the body’s weight. Reduce the weight and the tension is reduced as well.

 

At the extreme end, night splints might be called for. These keep your feet at a certain angle while you sleep and act to Stretch the calf muscles while relieving tension on the Plantar Fascia. 


Check out this excellent article by Josh Clark on Cool Running.

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