Plantar Fasciitis: Debunking the Myths
by Ashley Black
IS THERE A FIX FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS?
If you have received the diagnosis of Plantar Fasciitis, then you are well aware of how painful one small part of the body can be, and how fascia can wreak havoc in your workouts and daily life.
Let me break it down for you so the words “Plantar Fasciitis” don’t sound so scary. In fact, Plantar Fasciitis is not really a diagnosis, it is a symptom. Broken into its parts, “plantar” is the bottom surface of the foot. It is just the anatomical region’s name. “Fascia,” is the anatomical region of the pain, meaning within the fascia and “itis” means inflamed. So, by the very definition of the words Plantar Fasciitis, you can now understand that the fascia in the bottom of your foot is inflamed.
Not only do feet get inflamed, in a lot of cases the fascia is so angry that it recoils. When this happens, we get “knots” in the fascia that feel like broccoli or bubble wrap just beneath the surface. If you rub your thumb really hard down the bottom surface of your foot, you can usually feel these adhesions, and sometimes they are visible as white spots surrounded by red. The white spots are the “knots” or adhesions that are not getting adequate blood supply, and the red surrounding is where there is proper blood flow. Having this new understanding of Plantar’s Fasciitis, you can simply rationalize that you have a symptom: inflamed foot fascia!
The question that will allow you to “STOP THE MADNESS” is WHY do you have this symptom? WHY is the fascia in the bottom of my feet reacting in this way? Answering this question will find the root cause AND the permanent solution.
In Fasciology, there is always a two-part answer: WHY am I Structurally UN-fit? And WHY am I Biomechanically UN-fit?
To understand the step-by-step solution, you need to be reminded of these key aspects of how fascia changes the body making you structurally UN-fit. Understanding these concepts will answer the WHY do I have this symptom?
- FASCIA IS EVERYWHERE! The first concept to be reminded of is that fascia is one big integrated system, like a body shaped ball of cotton candy. It is the ONLY system of the body that if dissected would be the shape of a human form penetrating and surrounding every other system of the body. The structural lines that run like ace bandages throughout the body are particularly important in Plantar Fasciitis, because 6 of the 9 main body lines run directly into the feet! If the body lines of fascia are the highways of the US, the feet are the biggest interchange in LA. To address the fascia in the feet, you have to address and restore the fascia of the entire body. This is a concept totally void in traditional medicine, chiropractic, and physical therapy. In fact, the US insurance system would not cover a treatment of the entire fascia system for Plantar Fasciitis because it would be outside the scope of the “diagnosis code.” This is crucial to understand because you could have a tight or jammed hip, or an old injury in the knee, a severe sway back or even a tight neck that could disrupt the fascia in your feet.
- FASCIA IS THE BODY’S GUARD DOG! The second concept to be reminded of is that fascia is a reactionary system of the body that is intended to protect us. Fascia reacts the same way muscles do. Have you ever stepped out too far, or lifted something in a weird way and had your muscle cramp up and cause a little tweak or knot? The muscle is recoiling to protect it from tearing. The fascia reacts the same way, by recoiling to protect. When you have misalignments, especially in the hip, knee, and ankle the nervous system can sense that there is a structural problem and sends a signal to the fascia to protect it. Try pinching the skin along your calves and shin. Pull it up, then the fascia has already tightened. Now try pushing along the shin. IF your skin and muscles pucker and look like cottage cheese below the surface, then you are “fascia bound“. These are warning signs that it’s a only a matter of time and activity level before you develop Plantar’s Fasciitis.
- FASCIA HATES IMPACT! A third concept is that fascia is hyper sensitive to impact. Impact meaning running, kicking a bag, car accidents, any type of jumping, any time the body is jolted in any way. IF the body is completely Structurally Fit at the time of impact then the fascia will absorb the shock and be okay. If the body is NOT Structurally Fit at the time of impact, then watch out! The fascia will come in and protect with a vengeance. This is why runners are typically the ones that experience Plantar Fasciitis the most.
Being Structurally UN-Fit + Ongoing Impact = Plantar Fasciitis
Now that you understand a little bit more about what Plantar Fasciitis is and what the root causes are, let me give you my 5 step guide to fix it permanently!
First order of business: address the overall fascia system with the FasciaBlaster® for a total body loosening and incorporate these 3 fascia line stretches (explained below).
Remember that fascia responds best to being internally and externally heated, so get in a few minutes of cardio, hop in a hot shower, bath or sauna and then perform these stretches:
1. Front Fascia line
2. The Back Fascia line
3. The Side Fascia line
These three stretches are a catch-all for loosening the fascia system as a whole, like stretching the cotton candy from all sides. For Plantar Fasciitis we are going to focus on the Back Line (shown in the picture to the left) as well as specific pieces of it in the foot and calf. Notice how the fascia in the bottom of the foot connects the entire back side from head to toe!.
Remember for each problem, we:
- Address total body fascia with full body FasciaBlasting and “The Big 3”
- Stretch area of focus
- Self-treat area of focus
- Reinforce with proper exercise for area of focus
- Focus on alignment in everyday activities
Below are these 5 steps in an easy to follow guide:
In this stretch, place one leg on a chair or household item. I like to have something to hold on to for balance. Make sure the item is low enough that you can lock your knee completely. Roll down with your whole upper body to put the entire back line on tension.
There are two things that make this stretch very special. First, grab the back of your head and pull your chin to your chest. You should feel the entire line, with an emphasis on where you are tightest. You can use these areas of tightness as a self-diagnosis to determine where the overall system needs attention.
Then, pull your toes back towards your shin. When the entire line is on tension and you pull the toes back, you should be able to emphasize the fascia in the plantar surface. This stretch should be dramatic and feel like nothing you’ve ever done before. This stretch is profound because most programs for Plantar Fasciitis only stretch the foot… completely missing the fascia!
2. Stretch area of focus
Using a softball, you can open the fascia of the calf. Cross one leg over the other to intensify the pressure point. Sit and hold for 2 minutes and repeat on the other leg. For more intensity, you can lift your bottom off the floor.
Watch this video for Plantar Fasciitis, foot pain or jammed ankles:
When the bones in the feet get “glued together” with fascia, the entire foot and up the body are compensating. This can spiral out of control! Use the FasciaBlaster® to open each individual joint and restore your feet!
Here’s how to use the FasciaBlaster® on your legs, shins and calf muscles to manage and self-treat pain, shin splints, fibromyalgia, plantar fasciitis, and more:
3. Self-treat area of focus
An important thing to recognize is the root cause of WHY you have Plantar Fasciitis. One way to recognize the misalignment is to notice the foot everting or the ankle rolling in. You can also notice this with your shoes if they wear down more on one side or the other. The foot rolling in or out causes a misalignment at the knee or twisted torsion which in turn can cause hip pain, a jammed hip or even low back pain. So start being aware of keeping the foot straight at all times. This means all the way from sitting in the car to standing in line for coffee. Check both feet and make sure the knee is not rolling in or out and your hips are straight.
Another very effective way to open the plantar fascia is to use the Nugget and follow the lines that go from the heel to each toe and across the entire base of all toes. Here’s the “poke, wiggle, wiggle” technique to use the Nugget!
Starting at the heel apply firm pressure and hold until it is not as intense as when you first started. Also wiggling the Nugget a little can make it a little more bearable and can help to really open the plantar fascia.
4. Reinforce with proper exercise for areas of focus
The next important step is to reinforce strength and stability after the tissue is open, which can be done with stability ball squats against a wall. Though it looks simple, it is more difficult than it appears. First of all, the pelvis must be neutral with no tilting forward or backward as you lower down to parallel. Here’s a tutorial to make sure your pelvis is in proper alignment!
5. Focus on alignment in everyday activities
Notice the hips, knees and ankles are all aligned and the feet are straight and shoulder width apart. Once you lower into the parallel position, the pressure and activation of the vastus medialis is of great importance. This is the inside of the knee and must be properly developed in order to stabilize and strengthen the changes you have made with structural alignment by opening the tissue with the FasciaBlaster®, a softball, and the Nugget.
Anatomy follows structure and is of the utmost importance to mechanically do exercise or any movement for the matter. So you noticing your own misalignments and then correcting them through tissue work, followed by reinforcement and constant awareness, will allow you to perform the activities you love and execute them at the highest athletic ability.
Physiology follows function, and if we are bio-mechanically fit we are now able to be physically fit and perform any movement without injury or ‘tweaking’ things on a regular basis. I describe this posture as “scarecrow”.
First of all, place your feet shoulder with apart and rock side-to-side and front-to-back and find the center of gravity. Straighten both knees (forward facing) and soften them. Check the pelvis by putting your fingers on your hip bones and making sure there is no rotation or tilting forward or backward. Scarecrow is what must be perfected before someone can go into “robot”, where you can do simple everyday movements (such as cooking at the stove or typing at a computer) without misalignments. Here’s the tutorial!
Once alignment becomes natural and proper you can move into “cheetah” – the ability to be aligned and have proper muscle memory in multi-joint, multi chain movements and activities. When proper structure and body mechanics are being performed, you can hit your peak sports performance and achieve goals that you never thought you could accomplish due to injuries, aches, and pain.
The FasciaBlaster® Can Help Improve Soft Tissue Pain!
If you have reoccurring pain and stiffness, the FasciaBlaster® is your answer!
This video explains the science and how fascial distortions affect pain:
Fascia is the root cause of most joint pain and is often times the culprit for full body mystery pain. Because tight fascia can close joints, create tension, impede nerves, and restrict blood, it causes a host of problems. The FasciaBlaster® (only $89!) can help loosen the adhesions in the connective tissue and restores the fascia. Anywhere you would foam roll, get massages or other therapy, you can now self-treat even more effectively with the FasciaBlaster®.