Plantar Fasciitis ... Or not!

Back in 2013 I found myself in one of those patterns that happens in our Reflexology businesses quite frequently. That pattern of repeatedly seeing clients with the same problem and/or issue.

And this one was ‘sore feet’. A VERY painful plantar area of the foot. And, particularly painful first thing in the morning when the person gets out of bed and puts their feet flat on the floor to take their first steps.

Some people had self diagnosed this as plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of your foot.

Plantar fasciitis is caused by straining the ligament that supports your arch. Repeated strain can cause tiny tears in the ligament. These can lead to pain and swelling. According to podiatrists this is more likely to happen if:

  • Your feet roll inward too much when you walk

  • You have high arches or flat feet.

  • You walk, stand, or run for long periods of time, especially on hard surfaces.

  • You are overweight.

  • You wear shoes that don't fit well or are worn out.

  • You have tight Achilles tendons or calf muscles.

But something was missing!

Some of my PF clients had previously been to a podiatrist and been told they needed an orthotic or special arch support, usually at quite a cost, and then sent away. A few had been given exercises to do, but not really told why or what the exercises were targeting, and to be honest the exercises often exacerbated the situation, creating even more tension under the foot in the already tight and painful area. The arch support situation surprised and annoyed me the most, as it seemed logical to me that suddenly wearing an insert in your foot to force it in to a new position for an entire day, in itself was creating more stress in the area. I have subsequently had this confirmed from a Podiatrist, who says that he instructs people to wear the new insert for short periods of time initially, and to build up the length of time gradually.

I must at this point add that I had already been having fairly good results by applying extra work to the reflex areas on the feet related to calf/ankle/hip and also by working the entire heel pad area and ankle.

But then I started to notice similarities between the clients. All of them had sore and/or stiff lower backs and extreme tightness all the way along their legs. None of them could bend over and touch their toes with their legs straight, while standing. Some said they used to be able to and some said they had never been able too, always feeling tight from lower back down.

I had found the missing bit! Plantar Fasciitis starts in the back!

A tight lower back is a problem but not debilitating.

Tightness down the legs is annoying and sometimes limits certain movements and certainly flexibility, but is not debilitating.

Stiffness in the ankles and tightness in the Achilles tendon is particularly frustrating, and usually means no more running if the person is a runner.

However, it is when the feet become tight and then sore that people take notice, because that is debilitating!

Plantar fasciitis is therefore not always plantar fasciitis YET! It’s not at the ‘tiny tears and inflammation stage’ YET! It is merely tightness! Very tight, and very painful, but not yet PF.

I have always had a very keen interest in stretching and flexibility, particularly being a musician, as it was very necessary in maintaining a pain free body. You can imagine what practicing the flute for three hours a day can do to the muscles. The repetitive nature of being in one, often fairly unnatural position, for many hours at a time, is a very real problem in most musicians lives.

I saw and recognised a need in my clients, and Stretch Fit started in February 2014. A space in which people (ladies at this stage) could become aware of the tension patterns in their bodies and learn how to release them.

Along the way I have read heaps of literature, online and in books, and experimented with various well known stretches from Yoga, Pilates and other movement therapies, even developing my own.

But the secret ingredient is this ...

You can not actually "stretch" a muscle?