Plantar Fasciitis Part I
The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Plantar Fasciitis Part I

Raina and several other readers asked about plantar fasciitis.

On a house, a fascia is a flat horizontal surface just under the roof. In your body, a fascia is flat fibrous tissue that wraps your muscles and soft structures. You have fascia in several places. One is across the bottom of your feet. "Plantar” means the bottom of your foot that you "plant" on the ground. Your plantar fascia is the fascia on the bottom of your foot. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation (-itis) of the fascia on the bottom of your foot.

Normal Plantar Fascia Action
When you walk or run with your feet facing straight ahead, the line of bending of the foot is straight from front to back. Each step gives you a nice, built-in small stretch across the bottom of your foot. As you walk, run, jump, and move, your plantar fascia transmits body weight across your foot. It is part of shock absorption for your entire leg.

How Bad Movement Mechanics Hurts
Several things can make the fascia tighten and hurt. Here are three. More to come in future posts:

1. When you walk or run with feet facing outward, the fascia loses the normal stretch. Over years of not getting its normal stretch, it becomes tight. Walking with feet facing outward also puts sideways forces on the fascia with each step instead of the needed stretch. Walking with poor shock absorption, banging down heavily with each step can amplify strain forces on a tight fascia. Every step you take on a tight fascia yanks on the heel where it attaches. Eventually the heel and bottom of the foot get irritated from the yanking and start to hurt. Irritation can eventually cause the bone to thicken to protect itself - a heel spur.

The tighter your Achilles and foot fascia, the more "normal" it feels to walk toe-out. In a circular problem, walking toe-outward is a common fascial tightener. It may be "natural" with tightness, but can increase tightness over time.

2. Letting ankles constantly sag into pronation (flattened arches) is another fascial strain. Keeping body weight more evenly around the sole of your foot, not pressing and downward on your arches, lifts the weight off the arch. Reader David from Belgium made us a great short video of easily changing from rolling in on the arches to holding straight in Fast Fitness - Fix Flat Feet, Pronation, and Fallen Arches.

3. Hard sole shoes and some fasciitis braces stop the sole from getting the normal lengthening while walking, stopping the pain from the stretch, giving the false impression that the injury is lessening. A negative cycle continues of shortening and continuing the source of the injury. Injections briefly make the area more prone to injury. Pain pills allow you to continue the injury process without pain telling you that it is wrong. Several kinds of anti-inflammatory and pain medicines interfere with healing. Wearing high heeled shoes raises the heel, shortening the length of the Achilles tendon, putting less stretch on the tendon, the lower leg muscles, and the fascia of the foot.

Fasciitis can be quickly stopped. It does not have to be chronic. "Doing" a few stretches does not undo a lifestyle of shortening, tightening, and straining. Forcing tight, artificially straight position instead of creating the length and use of the area that allows healthful motion, can create more pain in other segments. Use your brain and learn good body movement to allow it to heal and be functional.

Helpful links to move in healthy ways to stop plantar fasciitis:


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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.