This is a modified version of the talk I gave at the Walk With a Doc event this past Saturday.
Let’s break down the term. “Plantar” refers to the bottom side of your foot, aka the sole. –itis is a term that means “inflammation.” All “-itis”es are inflammation of some sort. “Fascia” is the term for connective tissue. Your body is filled with fascia! So plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the connective tissue at the bottom of your foot.
This inflammation comes, usually, from small tears that form in the fascia due to use of your feet. You use your feet all the time, so it’s no wonder that sometimes, these tears form and eventually become inflamed. Because there’s a point of connection at the base of your heel, that’s frequently a spot of stress and a spot where this inflammation occurs.
One thing that might surprise you is that massage can be an effective way to alleviate the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. You have a number of leg muscles that wrap under your feet and contribute to strain on the fascia. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, your doctor may have recommended some stretches that can alleviate that strain. Massage is another way to loosen those muscles and release that strain. If you don’t feel like you can afford a full-body massage, you can consider a shorter massage that focuses on your feet and lower legs.
There are also some things you can do at home to relieve plantar fasciitis.
Stretching, especially of the gastrocnemius and soleus (the two major muscles in your calf), can be very helpful. Google is your friend here!
You can freeze a disposable water bottle. The grooves in the plastic provide a great impromptu foot massage, and the ice helps reduce the inflammation.
Make sure your shoes fit well, have rigid soles, and provide good arch support. If they don’t, consider orthotics (arch-support inserts) or a change in footwear. If you change your footwear, go to a store where personnel are trained to analyze your feet and your gait and find a pair of shoes that works for you.
Be well, healthy and whole!