How to Cure Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a common pain condition of the foot. It is usually caused by different anatomical or use conditions, and it can be extremely painful if you don’t take care of it properly. Although no cure for plantar fasciitis really exists, you can help your pain by determining what is causing the plantar fasciitis and taking steps to minimize that factor. From obesity to flat feet, you can have a number of problems that cause you to have this foot pain. Sometimes, in severe cases, you can have more than one problem and need a more comprehensive approach to treating your plantar fasciitis. Finding out the root cause of your pain may take multiple approaches and a trial and error mindset. However, it is worth it in the end because once you pinpoint the problem, the treatments are generally effective.

What is plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the thick band of connective tissue that spans the bottom of your foot. The plantar fascia runs from just under your heel bone to the bases of the toes. It is a ligament, meaning that it connects bone to bone, and it can become irritated if worked too much. It operates under a windlass or bowstring mechanism. Since it spans the arch, the downward force of the body when walking collapses the arch. The plantar fascia pulls the arch back together on push off with the ground, and it keeps the arch from collapsing. It has a spring back mechanism that keeps the foot in proper working order.

Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of this sheet of ligament. Inflammation is caused by small tears that form along the length of the plantar fascia from overuse or abuse. These small tears are seen as injury by the body, and the immune response to this injury causes a rush of blood and chemical mediators to the site. This response is generally helpful, but the swelling it causes can give you pain. If you bring so much blood and chemicals to the relatively small site of the plantar fascia, you will experience this normal body reaction as pain when walking.

Cures for plantar fasciitis
When you have an acute flare up of plantar fasciitis, you can do a few things to make the pain ease off in the short term. For instance, merely elevating your foot above your heart and applying ice to the arch will cause the swelling and inflammation to subside. This is because you are essentially removing the excess blood by gravity and temperature. Another short term fix is the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. These medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, chemically reduce the amount of inflammatory response in your foot. They help with the constant, nagging pain of plantar fasciitis, but they do not treat the primary cause of the condition. These are only band-aide techniques, and you need to determine what the primary cause of your pain is to apply other techniques that are more capable of curing your plantar fasciitis.

Muscle tightness
Tight muscles are one of the most common causes of plantar fasciitis pain. Your foot and lower leg are a wonder of engineering. Your calf muscle actually impacts how you walk and how your foot hits the ground. In fact, the calf is connected to the Achilles tendon, or the thick cord that runs down the back of your ankle, and this tendon is connected to the plantar fascia in young and middle aged people. With a connection like this, it only makes sense that the health of the calf muscle will affect the plantar fascia. You can do stretching exercises to help relieve the tightness in your calf muscle, and this will help your leg deal with the pressures of running or walking better than if it were tight.

The foot has a few muscles, too, and stretching out the foot or massaging it with a tennis ball can help to eliminate pain. By stretching out the muscles of the foot, you give your body a better foundation to work from and can prevent the repetitive stress that often causes plantar fasciitis. Loose muscles work better because they do not over compensate for variances and oddities in the gait. Tight muscles cause you to walk differently, and if you work to loosen your muscles with stretching exercises, they give you the best chance to have a normal gait.

Muscle weakness
Just as a tight muscle makes your gait unnatural, weak muscles can account for pain, as well. The calf muscle and the muscles of the foot need to be strong enough to endure the constant pounding your feet take. If you do not have any muscle strength in your calf, for instance, your ability to flex and extend your foot under the weight of the body is greatly reduced. Your muscles are just not capable of handling stresses when they are too weak to properly move your foot through the range of motion when walking.

Strength exercises come in a variety of flavors. You want to focus your attention on strengthening the calf muscle in all the various movements that are used with walking. For instance, using a resistance band around the foot, you can extend and flex your foot against the resistance. This will help build the muscle of the calf and give you a better foundation for walking that will take the pressure off the plantar fascia. Your foot muscles can benefit from strengthening, as well. You can lay a towel or sheet in front of you on the floor and curl your toes in the cloth to bring the towel towards you. Putting a weight on the end of the towel can increase the resistance when this exercise becomes too easy.

Muscle endurance
If your muscles are strong and loose, you are ahead of most other people. The endurance your muscle has also can affect how you walk, run, and move. No matter how strong the muscle or flexible, if it does not have the ability to carry you through a long term event, you will likely revert to old ways of walking that will put strain on your plantar fascia. When the muscles wear out, they use what are known as “accessory” muscles. These are muscles that are normally not involved in walking, and using them as a primary means of propulsion can actually put more strain on your feet.

The solution for muscle endurance issues is participating in exercises that exhaust the muscle over a period of time. For instance, calf lifts will help you to build strength, but doing many of them in a row will build your endurance. You can also build endurance by participating in low impact activities, such as walking, that help the leg muscles become accustomed to long term use. Regular walking as an exercise is a great way to build endurance, but if you are having acute pain, it may make the condition worse. Only attempt these exercises when you are relatively free of pain. Barefoot walking is another great exercise to build strength and endurance, not only in your lower leg, but also in your feet.

Foot mechanics
Everyone walks in a slightly different way. This is due to the natural formation of the foot, the strength and flexibility of the muscle, and the way you were taught to walk. Sometimes a natural gait or the formation of the foot does not help with plantar fasciitis pain. For instance, flat feet are notorious for causing tears to the plantar fascia because the arch does not have enough support through the walk cycle. You can’t really do anything to change your foot’s composition or gait. You can find ways to treat this type of problem when it causes plantar fasciitis.

One of the problems with flat feet is that it causes the foot to over pronate. This means that the ankle rolls in towards the other foot when your foot strikes the ground. That puts a tremendous amount of strain on the plantar fascia and causes pain. A way to deal with this situation is to buy specialized shoes that keep your foot and ankle in proper alignment all the way through the foot strike. You can also purchase shoe inserts that provide protection against over pronation and support the arch for flat footed people. These inserts can be factory made, such as you would find in a pharmacy, or custom made that would require a trip to the doctor and orthotics specialist.

Body weight and overuse
The plantar fascia is designed to take only a certain amount of pressure before tears start to form. If you are overweight, you are putting more stress on the plantar fascia than it is designed to take. From the repeated walking with ten, twenty, or thirty pounds of excess weight, it is no wonder that the ligament starts to show its strain. The plantar fascia can take a high load before it fails entirely, but it does not take much weight to cause the minor tears that lead to plantar fasciitis. In addition, if you are a long distance runner or someone who pounds on their feet in work or play, the ligament may become overstretched and tear from sheer overuse. The plantar fascia can take some punishment, but repeatedly overusing your foot without proper stretching and strengthening will lead to plantar fascia pain.

To help your foot if you find yourself in this position, you have to consider lifestyle changes. If you are overweight, even by 10 pounds, you need to reduce your weight by consuming fewer calories and increasing your exercise. It may be very difficult to exercise with plantar fasciitis, so focus on low impact exercises, such as gentle walking, and don’t push yourself with training until your feet are relatively pain free. For runners and those who are on their feet a great deal, you will likely have to cut back on your activities to see any improvement in your pain. You should decrease your miles or change jobs to protect your feet. Once you are pain free, consider inserts, special shoes, and plantar fasciitis exercises to prevent the pain from occurring again.

Other disease processes
A few other issues can cause plantar fasciitis pain. One of the most common conditions that people confuse with plantar fasciitis is heel spurs. Many people have heel spurs that do not have any pain. Some people with heel spurs have plantar fasciitis, but some people have painful heel spurs that are not technically plantar fasciitis. A rough heel spur can cause you to have plantar fascia pain, but you do not necessarily need to have a heel spur for you to have plantar fasciitis. Although the two conditions are often linked in many people’s minds, they really are only vaguely related.

Trauma and other injury to the foot are another uncommon cause for plantar fasciitis. If your foot was stepped on or injured in a fall, these can sometimes cause the plantar fascia to become torn and cause pain. The only way to overcome this type of plantar fasciitis is to allow your foot to heal thoroughly, and then start to apply the exercises to strengthen your foot and calf. If the trauma caused a broken bone that is impinging on the ligament, a surgeon could file down any sharp bone to alleviate the problem. On the whole, though, trauma and foot injury require rest and then a comprehensive rehabilitative therapy program afterward.

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