Over the years, I can’t even remember how many clients have walked thru my doors complaining of foot pain caused by Plantar Fasciitis. Some were avid runners, others were nurses or school teachers, they either have jobs that required them to be on their feet all day, or they’ve made such poor footwear and shoe choices that now foot pain and plantar fasciitis were chronic foot pain problem!
I recently read an article by Rick Merriam, “Plantar Fasciitis has very little to do with your Foot.” This is a good article that is a strong reminder to me of why I’ve always focused on improving strength to affect muscle release, rather than just “stretching.” Balanced muscle development is required for a healthy body to move efficiently and without pain.
This is also why regardless of whether you’ve got foot pain, knee, pain, hip pain, back pain, or neck and shoulder pain, the first thing to become more aware of are your posture habits to stand, sit, and walk. If you can’t stand upright and breath with good posture habits, and optimal body support to help lift you UP off your feet, and keep your body in good alignment to move efficiently, it will be impossible to start making changes that will stick, no matter what the issue is you’re dealing with.
Fascia Release work can help, since it goes many levels beyond just “stretching” to affect opening the space inside the body to help eliminate pain and move more freely. (And with my training as a Rossiter® coach, I am a big fan of incorporating Fascia release work into your wellness program.) But even with any method of fascia release there are three interesting things to consider:
- Where you “hurt” might not be exactly where you need to work/stretch to get lasting relief.
- “Stretching” opens space, thus creating more instability.
- To stand, sit, and move in a healthy pain-free body, you will need: Space between the joints to move freely. Balanced muscle development to provide stability/strength. And proper timing of muscle contraction / muscle firing patterns for work and release to happen effectively (with right muscles) to enjoy pain-free movement and develop whole-body health.
It’s a lot to pay attention to. Body awareness is key. A better understanding of how everything is interconnected, and your good/bad posture and movement habits can make a huge difference, and help you more quickly improve your Plantar fasciitis problems.
This is why Pilates is such a great modality for helping improve whole-body health. It’s the whole-body that needs to be addressed in relationship to the feet. Plus, getting off the feet to start making changes is the fastest way to feel better. Think about it, how compromised is your gait, stride, walking, and movement habits when you’re gimping around because your feet hurt?
What’s going to help you the most to start improving your Plantar Fasciitis problems… hard to say without a personalized evaluation, but a few things are key:
- Posture Awareness and Improvement (All day long as well as during exercise)
- Better Breathing Habits
- Improving Core Support
- Improving Hip and Shoulder Mechanics (Yes really!)
- Getting the ALL the Muscles in your Ankles, Arches, and Toes Activated to Work Well.
We shove our feet in shoes, whether they’re “supportive” or “minimalist” and think that our feet are doing their job, when in fact IF the muscles were working properly, everything would be in balance and you would not have plantar fasciitis or any other foot pain problems.
I’ve had more than my fair share of foot pain problems… so believe me I’m preaching to the choir, speaking from personal experience, and have worked with thousands of clients over the past thirty-plus years! And therefore if you come to me complaining of pain from plantar fasciitis, I’m going to look at your whole-body posture, and breathing habits, core support, body mechanics, and begin with a focus on foot strengthening exercises, for the ankles, arches and toes, because rest and stretching will never get the right muscles working to better support you. Plus, your feet are the foundation for your posture! If things aren’t working well at the soles of your feet – ultimately everything stacked above is going to be compromised too! The question becomes, is it compromised enough to cause pain somewhere else – yet…?
There is a Lot YOU can do to improve your Plantar Fasciitis problems with exercise!
I encourage you to get started improving posture and core support. Check out the Centerworks quick Posture Quiz to see what you might need to be more aware of when you’re standing on your feet. When you’re ready to take the stress of your poor, over-worked, painful plantar fascia, and want to improve the strength and muscle balance in your feet to get relief, consider focusing on foot strengthening exercises and start with the Terrific Toe exercises in the book Fantastic Feet!
Your toes should be able to work very much like your fingers – problem is, we don’t use them enough. And the muscles under the soles of the feet that are needed to help balance the lift of your arches are all directly related to how well you’re able to articulate your toes in ALL directions. (I’d place a wager on the fact that if you have plantar fasciitis pain, you’re going to be just like me, and find that to get started with your Fantastic Feet, Terrific Toe exercises, that your hands will be moving your toes, more than your toe muscles.) Why can’t you move your toes well (or without getting a foot cramp) because the muscles are weak! There is not enough strength with the right muscles on the bottom of your feet to support you – your plantar fascia is attempting to do the actual work of your muscles and that’s not it’s job. It’s failing miserably and you’re got foot pain to prove it!
My best recommendation, (Yes, now it’s self-promotion, but only because I’d really like you to be able to enjoy life with less foot pain.) Regardless of whether you run, or just walk… Get a Runfit Kit™. For about the price of one good pair of running shoes, you can get all the foot-fitness training resources you need to improve foot care, and incorporate foot strengthening (and stretching) exercises into your weekly workout routine. Pay attention to your posture, and take better care of your feet to help get your body back in balance to alleviate plantar fasciitis problems. It’s going to take some work, but you can do it! Take good care of your feet, they’ve got to last you a lifetime.