Help for Plantar Fasciitis
If you have plantar fasciitis, I’m sure you’ve tried many remedies because it can be REALLY painful! Possibly you have tried stretching your calves or rolling your foot on a frozen water bottle or a ball. Maybe you have found some relief by wearing orthotics or a splint or even getting a shot in your foot. But have any of these “fixes” helped to break the cycle of pain in your foot?
Foot Function and Movement Assessment
If you struggle with plantar fasciitis or any type of foot pain, ideally you should get the function of your feet evaluated. And your whole body movements assessed while you’re at it!
If you have feet that are over-pronated (lower arches, possibly flat footed), this limits the way you use your feet and gluteal muscles (and your whole body, really). You want dynamic movement in your feet that flow from from a pronated/low arched foot to a supinated/high arched foot. When you are stuck in pronation, you cannot be good at the act of pronating but instead are in a sluggish low arched type of foot shape. This limits how you load your glutes with every step you take (healthy pronation is necessary for proper loading of your gluteal muscles). When you don’t lengthen and load your glutes properly, then you don’t use them properly during push when walking. This causes strain in your body and can manifest as foot pain.
If you are on the opposite side of the coin and have a rigid high arched foot type, your foot pain can very well be from lack of shock absorption since pronation allows your arch to lower so you can absorb shock! This foot type benefits from learning how to let go of the high arch and allow the arch to lower and flatten toward the floor when you take weight onto the front leg while walking.
Do Orthotics Really Help?
Orthotics can be a helpful short term solution for foot pain. But if you wear orthotics or shoes with arch support this blocks you from using your foot and the rest of your body in a functional dynamic way. Holding your foot in a rigid position does not allow your foot muscles to do what they are supposed to be doing. Since your feet are being robbed of movement, other areas of the body have to compensate. Does this sound like a healthy solution?? NOT to me. There are some cases where there is a deformity in the foot that requires long term use of orthotics, but most of us should be working on getting our feet functional so we no longer rely on them to stay out of pain!
I highly recommend that you learn exercises to get your feet functioning well for you. You should be able to feel improvements right away. And connecting healthy foot movements with healthy movement patterns in the rest of your body can help with pain in your knees, hips, back, neck, shoulders, etc.!!
Once you get your foot muscles to start functioning better you can also try to start weaning yourself from orthotics and stiff supportive shoes. Going barefoot as much as you can tolerate, and gradually transitioning to barefoot or minimalist style shoes allows your feet to function without added support throughout the day. This is a natural workout for your feet that adds in NO EXTRA TIME to your day, how great is that?!
I hope that this helps you to realize how amazing your feet are and that there is A LOT you can do to help them out!