PLANTAR refers to the bottom of the foot
FASCIA refers to sheet or band of fibrous tissue
ITIS is medicalese for inflammation
LIKE YOUR OTHER PARTS, your feet cannot be separated from the rest of you. Hips influence knees and feet and feet influence knees and hips. How you use the muscles of your hips, knees and feet determine how they feel. For instance, while running may give you a high and a trophy, the surface you run on may leave you with incontinence, hamstring pulls and calf muscle spasm.
You don’t run, you bike? Like running, biking uses the front and back of the legs and in both running and biking the lower leg muscles pull on the feet. If you have ever looked at an anatomy book you know that the muscles of the lower leg attach on the bottom of the foot. Some act as a supporting stirrup, some help propel you forward while others help with balance. The bottom of the foot has four layers of muscles, yes, four!
It is said that PLANTAR FASCIITIS occurs when the fascia (a band of tissue which supports the arch of the foot) becomes inflamed due to things like improper footwear, carrying extra pounds, tight calf muscles and exercise. Well, that was yesterday. The latest thought is that it is due to non-inflammatory structural breakdown of the fascia and should be renamed.
Fix It Fast
Most people agree that the faster you get at the problem whether it be a leaky car hose or a hurt muscle, the better. No one likes to be stranded in the middle of the highway or in the case of a hurting foot, be stranded at home.
Auto repair places would probably agree that replacing the hose is the fastest and most economical way to fix that problem. But when it comes to the body, the experts rarely agree.
One of the reasons for “getting at” any muscle problem as soon as possible is that any time there is pain, the body reacts by moving in a different way in an effort to alleviate that pain. Left long enough without proper treatment, biomechanical changes take place which throw the body off kilter, so to speak.
The conservative standard treatments for plantar fasciitis are: physical therapy, stretching, splints, orthotics, cortisone shots, rolling the sole of the foot over a cold water bottle or tennis ball, taping and shock-wave therapy. And as the saying goes…”one size does not fit all”… so what works for one person makes another person worse. The problem is said to disappear in about 6 to 12 months. Meanwhile… your body is trying to accommodate itself.
Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy Treatment
So at the very first sign of a problem, work your Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy® trigger points and you will be successful 95% of the time… if it is muscle related. If there really is pathology, it won’t work.
Over the years, almost every diagnosis and condition concerning the foot and lower leg has walked, or rather limped, into my office. Heel spurs, tarsal tunnel, gout, shin splints, sprained ankles, swollen ankles, weak ankles, turned in feet, turned out feet… and the dreaded Plantar Fasciitis. In all but one case, the Myotherapy treatment either totally eliminated the symptoms or greatly alleviated them in one or two treatments.
If you have a foot or ankle problem, first treat the hips and upper legs as shown in Pain Erasure the Bonnie Prudden Way, Myotherapy or Bonnie’s Prudden’s After Fifty Fitness Guide. Then treat the lower legs, being especially thorough by doing extra lines and extra points along the lines. Don’t forget, many of the muscles in the lower leg run over the ankle and serve as a stirrup under the foot.
Not long ago a young woman came to me for back pain, but when I took her history she mentioned that she also had plantar fasciitis and wore a brace each night to keep her calf muscle stretched. I quipped that she might not have plantar fasciitis when she left.
After treating her low back pain (which in her case involved the hamstrings), I continued down to the back of her lower leg. It was very tight and had lots of trigger points. I followed this with treatment to the medial, lateral and anterior muscles and lastly the bottom of the foot and, of course, the appropriate stretches.
I always have my patients get up and “try out your body” following the treatment. She said her back pain was gone. I asked about her plantar fasciitis. She kept walking around the room as if she were trying to find it.
When you have pain and you’ve been to a doctor who has ruled out ruptured this or broken that, then figure it is muscles with trigger points and that YOU can help yourself.
The Muscles of the Bottom (Plantar) of the Foot
Don’t forget, the bottom of the foot has four layers of muscle. And they really only get exercised if you are barefoot. The shoes of today turn the foot into a hoof, which means your foot muscles never really get a workout.
Exercises to Get You Started
First treat the trigger points. Second perform the corrective exercises. And third…
Put on the music and for the length of the piece, do these six exercises alternating as the music directs… every 8 beats. Never do more than 16 counts of any one exercise before shifting to the next one. Muscles love variety. They do not like repetitive movement.
Rules For Feet
- Go barefoot (or the equivalent) as much as possible on surfaces that make your foot and lower leg muscles work such as sand and grass.
- Don’t run on the road, run on the trail.
- Dance on wooden floors with spring, not on one with cement beneath it.
- Dance modern, jazz and anything barefoot. Don’t go for aerobic dance with shoes and repetitive movements.
No matter your activity whether simple walking or an all-out race for the gold, the best way to prevent foot problems is to build strength and flexibility starting at birth. Along with good manners, kindness, curiosity and courage… good feet need to be nurtured from the start.
For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help.
Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®