Plantar fasciitis, also known as plantar heel pain syndrome (PHPS), is a common problem that can cause mild to severe pain on the sole of your foot, making it hard to walk and even put your weight on your feet. It’s the most common cause of heel pain, and it happens when your plantar fascia – the flat band of tissue connecting your heel bone to your toes – gets weak or inflamed, making your heel or the bottom of your foot hurt to walk on. Plantar fasciitis is most common in middle aged people, and often seen in younger people who are on their feet a lot. Some people find that the pain is worse when they wake up and it eases during the day as they walk on the affected foot. It can be a difficult to treat problem, doctors often try steroid injections to no avail, but experts are coming around to the idea that massage therapy and stretching can be more effective at treating the problem than steroid injections or possible surgery.
Studies into Massage Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis.
Research carried out at an outpatient physical therapy clinic in Israel showed that massage was a promising treatment for plantar fasciitis. The researchers studied 69 people with the condition who had been referred to them by an orthopedic surgeon. One group was given ultrasound treatment combined with stretches and the other was treated with massage therapy and stretches. All the patients were offered eight treatments over six weeks, although only 51 people completed the whole study. When the massage intervention was compared to ultrasound (which isn’t thought to be that effective in treating PHPS anyway) the researchers found that deep tissue massage on the calf muscles combined with stretching exercises was more likely improve the symptoms than a combination of ultrasound and stretching. Ten minutes of deep pressure massage to the posterior calf was all it took to see a difference in the patients in the study – that’s easy to fit into a massage session so if you’ve been suffering with it, don’t suffer in silence, speak to your therapist and ask them to add in some deep tissue massage to your regular routine. Always mention any new injury or pain to your massage therapist, and they should know what to do from there.
Other Self Care Suggestions.
Commonly, our feet are taken for granted. They are a irreplaceable, important body part. Don’t abuse them! Pedicures are a great way to help relax your feet and legs. Not only are pedicures good for the cleanliness of your toenails, but the hot water foot soak and foot and leg massage really add to the benefits. If you are suffering from plantar fasciitis, regular pedicures will help keep the connective tissue band relaxed and warmed up, making it less likely to become painful.
Plantar Fasciitis Stretches.
To soothe the condition in the long term you’ll need to stretch the plantar fascia – so try pulling up on your foot and toes, then holding the stretch for about 30 seconds. Repeat this stretch five times and do the routine three times a day if you can. Calf muscle stretching has also been shown to be effective in managing PHPS – try a standing calf stretch with your affected foot furthest from the wall and one foot in front of the other. Lean forward keeping your heels on the floor until you feel the stretch in the back of your calf and Achilles tendon. Repeat five times, three times a day. Be cautious when trying a new stretch, and be sure to not over do it. Start slow and ease into the stretch to avoid possible injury.