The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Tips To Cure Plantar Fasciitis: It’s About More Than Just The Foot

Posted by on Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

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The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in NYC sees a lot of runners come through our doors with plantar fasciitis, a type of inflammation and pain in the heel. Nationally, plantar fasciitis accounts for 10% of all running injuries, and accounts for roughly a million running injuries each year. Avid runners often ask us, “Am I overtraining? Why does this keep happening to me?” The answer goes far beyond the foot.

plantar fascia pain
Image Source: Bandhayoga.com

Why Do People Get Heel Pain?

“We always tell people with plantar pain to stretch your hamstrings and calves, in addition to your feet,” says Dr. Nadia Levy. “This is more than likely the main cause for the plantar fasciitis — and to cure it, you must address the biomechanical issues.”

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Dr. Levy goes on to explain that the plantar fascia is a thick, fibrous band of connective tissue running from the heel bone along the arch, attaching to the base of each toe. This tissue absorbs shock for the metatarsal bones and the rest of the leg. It also prepares the foot for “take-off” when walking or running. Not surprisingly, the pain often centers around the heel, where the tissue is the thinnest.

plantar fasciitis
Image Source: WebMD.com

Stretching & Strength-Training Heals Plantar Fasciitis.

Supporting muscles like the hamstrings, Achilles tendon, and calves ease the burden placed on the plantar fascia. When these support structures are tight, there is an over-flexion of the knee, increased dorsi-flexion of the ankle, an abnormal amount of stress placed on the Achilles tendon, and pulling at the heel bone. The plantar fasciitis itself doesn’t stretch beyond 102% its usual length. It’s like a really thick rubber band. Yet, strengthening and stretching these other areas can alleviate unnecessary stress and strain.

What Kind Of Exercises Should Be Done?

The Sport Factory recommends toe walking, toe curls, and toe grasping exercises. Rogue Valley Fit says that eccentric calf raises and deep knee bends help as well. Runner’s World recommends stretching the calves out with a foam roller and then rolling your foot over a frozen water bottle five minutes at a time, five times a day. Another great stretch is to sit cross-legged and grabbing the end of the right foot at the toes, gently pulling back for the stretch. Planks and back extension core work done at least twice a week reduces stress all the way down the spine to the feet. Outside Online explains how to do exercises like: toe yoga, marble pick-up, towel scrunch, toe breaker posture, self foot massage, shin massage, and stair stretches.

arch pain
Image Source: WoodlakePodiatry.com

Lastly, Don’t Forget About Shoes!

Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. Ryan Minara adds that one should pay special attention to their footwear if plantar fasciitis is an issue. “One of the biggest tips to help ‘cure’ plantar fasciitis is to help prevent it in the first place,” he says.

“If you’ve suffered from plantar fasciitis in the past, you should avoid using shoes that are overly flat. Traditional flat flip-flops are notorious for causing foot issues, especially plantar fasciitis. Try to find an ergonomically correct shoe with arch support and a small heel elevation.”

Plantar fasciitis sufferers in the NYC area are welcome to come to our podiatrist and sports medicine clinic for shoe-buying advice, acute pain treatment, and physical therapy sessions.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.