Plantar fasciitis is a condition where the plantar fascia on the bottom of your feet becomes inflamed and swollen and causes pain in the heel or in the bottom of the foot. The symptoms of plantar fasciitis are pain in the bottom of the foot near the heel when weight bearing, pain during the first steps after sleeping or sitting for long periods of time.
Home Treatment Options:
First, rest and avoid any aggravating activities that cause heel pain. Avoid running or walking on hard surfaces, especially without shoes on. Wear shoes with good arch support that have good shock absorption. Finally, massage or self myofascial release of the plantar fascia using a lacrosse ball or a golf ball or even a Body Works ball.
Treatments We Perform At Our Office:
My number one treatment that we do is called laser therapy, and that reduces the pain and the swelling, helps speed up the healing process.
With the laser therapy we will be treating the source of the pain, which generally is in the heel along with treating the rest of the foot to reduce inflammation and decrease pain. Sometimes the pain is more in and around the heel and sometimes it more directly in the arch of the foot.
With laser therapy the patient just feels a mild warm sensation. It feels really good, especially for people that are dealing with acute plantar fasciitis. Laser therapy takes away the pain and discomfort.
The treatment protocol takes about anywhere from six to eight minutes. Most of the time we will also treat the calf and soleus region in the lower leg here to also help further loosen up tightness up in that area, which can contribute to the plantar fasciitis.
Next, we do a technique called active release techniques and Graston techniques to the plantar fascia. This helps to loosen up the tight plantar fascia and help to restore some of the mobility in the tissue. We use a Graston tool to clear out any tightness, and muscular adhesions that may have formed, decrease the muscle or connective tissue tone in the area. What the patient can feel with this treatment are ridges or bumps in the area where the problem is and that could be an area where it’s painful. It could also be an area where it’s adding some tension onto the plantar fascia. We treat the entire plantar fascia in all directions.
Finally, we’ll do a technique called dry needling to the calf muscles and the soleus muscles. Dry needling decreases the muscle tightness in the calves, helping to take the pressure off the plantar fascia. Dry needling can be applied to the calf area, the gastrocnemius muscle, the soleus muscle and any of the other deep muscles in the feet and legs here. Dry needling helps reduce the strain and stress on the plantar fascia, because it is all one connective tissue all the way down into the bottom of the foot, so any tightness up here could be impacting the plantar fasciitis. In this case, we are performing dry needling to the patients calf. The patient will feel like a dull, achy sensation if we get over one of those knots or trigger points in the calf muscle. They may also feel a little bit of a local twitch response as we release that soft tissue.
Dry needling is a very effective treatment technique for leg tightness. Most of the time we do a combination of the treatments to help relieve plantar fasciitis.
Now, if someone has very flat or pronated feet, sometimes we’ll also make custom orthotics for that patient. The custom orthotics basically help to optimize the foot biomechanics and help reduce the pressure on the injured area.
Another important step in the treatment process is having the patient stretch and strengthen the plantar fascia to help it prevent from returning. It’s a very common condition where it can recur if you don’t stretch and strengthen the tissue after you receive treatment.
Now, one of the products I’m a huge fan of is a product called the Roll Recovery R8. This roller massages and releases the tightness in the calves and in the lower legs. It’s very effective at maintaining the soft tissue mobility in the legs. You’ll want to roll each area in the legs for two minutes daily and before and after a workout. Next, roll the bottom of the plantar fascia using a lacrosse ball or a golf ball to loosen up any tightness in the plantar fascia.
To roll the plantar fascia, what you want to do is you want to take like a lacrosse ball here or even a tennis ball. A golf ball’s going to be a little bit harder, so you may want to start off with something a little softer like a tennis ball or lacrosse ball, and basically we’re just going to, again, find any of those tight areas in there and just roll back and forth. You can also add in some toe movement as you’re rolling it and see if that makes a difference, just some active motion back and forth like that. Just really find any of those tender spots. Often the problem area it’s going to be more back towards the heel or more in the arch of the foot and just roll back and forth.
I like to do this have patients do this while they’re watching TV or after they’ve rolled the calf. That’s a great time to also roll the plantar fascia and help loosen it up. So that’s a lacrosse ball or golf ball. You can also use something such as this, which is a product called the Body Works ball. Basically, the advantage of this is you can actually get some leverage using the handle here and you’re just going to roll back and forth. This is a great product because you can also use it in the back. You can use it in other areas and use the handle and strap to get more tension. Also, it will hold it in the right position so you can kind of tension it, roll on that foot and then position it a little bit different and then, depending on how much you’re pulling up on the handle, you can get some good treatment onto the tissue there.
One other stretch we can do is you can also, in a seated position, with the ankle flexed and your toes flexed, you can hold this stretch position like that and you’re getting a good stretch all the way from the calf and into the bottom of the plantar fascia and really get a good stretch into the plantar fascia like this. I’ll have patients hold this for 30 to 45 seconds again, just getting a good, nice stretch onto the plantar fascia. Again, none of this should be painful. So those are a couple different stretches that we can do for the plantar fascia.
If you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis, give our office a call at 703-912-7822 or schedule an appointment online by visit us at Chiropractor in Burke, VA.