How To Decrease Heel Pain And Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms
Jul 11, 2020
The mid-to-late summer months are typically ripe with feet issues. By this time, people have ventured more outdoors, increased their walking and activity, and are trying to enjoy the warmer weather before Fall and Winter rush in too soon.
It’s great to see people trying to be more active. The only problem is that many people are wearing the wrong types of shoes, do not have the endurance to physically increase their activity, or aren’t strong enough.
Recently, I did a quick video on 3 Quick Tips About Heel Pain and Plantar Fasciitis. https://www.facebook.com/jeanette.brandtdewitt/videos/2102821819855377/
I’d like to expand on these tips a bit.
- Shoe wear - Flip flops are not supportive shoes. Sometimes they are as flimsy as soft foam or thin cardboard. Although flip flops serve a purpose in preventing your feet from burning as you walk from your chair to the pool or in preventing foot fungus in a public locker room, they were never intended to walk 10,000 steps per day on hard tile at the grocery store or pavement at the local park walking trail. I recommend finding a very good local shoe store that measures your feet and actually fits you for a shoe that is best for your feet. If you have a lot of foot issues, I recommend seeking a physical therapist like myself to evaluate your feet, prescribe and fit you for a custom orthotic, and prescribe exercises for your feet. Most people don’t realize that you have 4 layers of muscle on the bottom of your feet. When your heel hits the ground, your foot will prefer a little protection!
- Flexibility - Heel pain and plantar fasciitis symptoms often occur because the calf and shin muscles are tight. Trigger points in the calf muscles often refer pain to the heel and plantar fascia. You can stretch all you want but you may need a physical therapist or a massage therapist to physically intervene to work out the trigger points and muscle tightness. Stretching after receiving hands-on therapy will be much more effective. I also recommend stretching other leg muscles like the hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, and iliotibial bands. Tightness in your legs, hips, and around your pelvis can change how your foot hits the ground. Thus, sometimes the problem isn’t your feet. Sometimes the problem is somewhere else in your body and your feet are just compensating for the root cause of the problem. If you are stretching and you never seem to be able to feel loose or your legs feel heavy and tight, then I recommend seeking out the skills of a specialist like a physical therapist or massage therapist. My rule is that if symptoms do not go away in 7-10 days, they probably won’t go away on their own. Seek a specialist and get the problem gone sooner than later.
- Weakness - Hip weakness, specifically weakness in the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus muscles, can cause your pelvis to drop on one side. When this happens, the opposite leg may take on more force because the weak hip side of the body isn’t strong enough to spend the same amount of time on that leg as the stronger leg. It’s not uncommon for the foot opposite of the hip weakness side to start having pain because that opposite side ends up doing more work than the weak side. These types of muscle imbalances can wreak havoc on your body. If you have ever felt like you started with pain in one area of the body and then started having pain in another part of your body and then another, etc - well, it’s probably because you have several muscle imbalances that are creating different forces or areas on impact on other areas that were not created to accept that type of impact.
So, what can you do?
- Wear supportive shoes
- Be flexible - stretch your muscles
- Get stronger - strengthen areas of weakness
- Restore balance - correct any asymmetries or areas that are out of balance or alignment
What if you don’t know how to do all of these things by yourself?
No worries, find a local physical therapist who can evaluate you and give you exercises and/or hands-on therapy. Physical therapists specialize in relieving pain and helping people move better. If you reside in Southeastern Wisconsin, I am happy to help by starting a conversation to learn more about what’s going on. I encourage you to book a Free Discover Visit with me at https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=17064376&appointmentType=9421255
To Your Best Health,