Your foot is one of the most complicated parts of your body. If you are like many, you spend a lot of time on your feet during the day, subjecting the feet to a lifetime of wear and tear. When foot pain occurs, the cause can be one of many different types of injuries. However, when the pain occurs underneath the foot, plantar fasciitis or heel spurs are common injuries. Though they may be used interchangeably to describe pain under the foot around the heel, plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are two different ailments.
Plantar fasciitis is caused by a tear to the plantar fascia ligament, a strong connective tissue that connects the heel to the toe. This ligament stretches with each step that you take, accommodating your weight as you move. After an increase in activity, sudden weight gain, or trauma to the foot, the ligament can tear and become irritated. This pain is usually worse in the morning upon waking, since the ligament elongates as you sleep. This stretching of the ligament during the night causes pain when you wake up. As you walk around during the day, the pain may decrease but it will return without proper treatment. The underside of the foot may swell and be tender to the touch. Heel spurs are a calcium deposit on the underside of the heel bone that causes a painful spur to extend forward. These can grow as large as a centimeter and cause constant pain. This pain is often made worse with pressure on the heel, as opposed to the pain of plantar fasciitis. Though it seems as though a boney protrusion into the soft tissue would be more painful, these spurs are usually painless. The pain that many people feel associated with the spurs is actually the pain caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia.
For both plantar fascittis and heel spurs, kinesiology tape that is cut for the foot can help immobilize the area and take pressure off the inflamed tissue. A podiatrist can provide arch and heel supports that are recommended to treat the pain. It is best to ice the underside of the foot when inflammation is noticed. A massage therapist will be able to massage the underside of the foot, stripping the ligament of adhesions so that the tight connective band can relax. It is also important that the calf, both the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, be released through massage therapy as well. During your gait, these two muscles of the calf are used and attach to the heel, pulling the plantar fascia and causing irritation. If the problem persists, a physical therapist or trainer can offer a stretching protocol and strengthening exercises for the posterior lower extremity.
While plantar fasciitis is an increasingly common condition, appropriate care can be given with the communication and collaboration with other healthcare professionals will be able to provide you with the best treatment plan. A massage therapist definitely has powerful tools to relieve the pain of plantar faciitis. If you are experiencing foot pain, please feel free to contact Stephanie Szpila of Blitz Body and Mind Massage at 866-3261 to schedule an appointment today.