By DR JOHN BLENIO, D.C.
It is my belief that plantar fasciitis occurs, because of shoes. Think about it. Nature did not design humans to wear shoes. When we are born, we are born bare footed. The skin and muscles of our feet are meant to be in close contact with the ground. However, from a very young age, we bind our feet in shoes, and quite often tight shoes. The end result of having feet bound in shoes for many years is muscle atrophy.
There are roughly 20 muscles in the feet that maintain foot function. Some of those muscles help maintain the arch in our foot. When those muscles atrophy, they are not strong enough to hold up the arch. As the arch falls, the muscles, tendons, and fascia become stretched and elongated. That elongation of the tissues results in micro-tearing of the plantar fascia. The end result is plantar fasciitis, pain, and discomfort. The plantar fasciitis problem, in my opinion, is caused by shoes
So, what can be done about it? I have my own philosophy for resolving this problem, and here is what I think you should do:
1. Barefoot Walking Therapy
Yes. Take off your shoes and walk barefooted. By strengthening the foot muscles, you will restore proper function and movement in the foot as a whole. When the foot muscles get stronger, they assist in the support of the bones and fascia.
Ease into barefoot walking though. Those first barefoot steps onto hard ground, dirt, or cement expose the tender underside of our feet that have not had regular contact with the ground. My recommendation is to find a local high school or college that has a rubber surface track. The rubber track is an excellent way to get started, because it is very forgiving on the feet. Walk one mile on the track (4 laps). Work your way up. Begin walking during the first week, then progress to running after that time. The foot muscles will respond, and in no time your feet will feel quite a bit better.
2. Stability Disc Exercises
Go to Sport Authority or another sporting goods retailer (they are online at Amazon.com too) and purchase a Stability Disc. You see stability discs in gyms. They are air filled discs about 15 or more inches in diameter. You can stand on it with one foot at a time. It’s going to challenge your balance, so make sure to be next to a wall when you begin, so you can maintain balance. Try and eventually balance without the use of the wall for stability. It won’t be easy at first, but as you try to stand on the disc with one foot, you will feel the muscles working hard to hold you steady. Do this for 5-10 minutes on each foot. Whatever the time, get to the point where you feel the muscles in your foot fatiguing a little. When you feel that fatiguing feeling, you have worked them out well.
3. Buy Shoes 1 Size Larger
I know. It sounds strange. It’s even going to feel strange. If you buy shoes that are a size larger, you give your feet room. Tight shoes reduce circulation in the feet, and they also jam the bones closer together. When you jam the bones close together for many years, the body eventually adapts and makes the feet and bones stay in that cramped configuration. Bunions are a common example of this, and may occur because the big toe bones are pushed inward toward your middle toe. If your shoes are one size larger (or more), the bones and tissues are in a more relaxed and natural state.
4. Seek Care from a Chiropractor who is Experienced With Foot Pain
A Doctor of Chiropractic who works with foot problems can offer a number of non-surgical, therapeutic methods to help you out of pain. He/She should be certified in the Active Release Therapy technique, a method used to break up scar tissue and improve muscle function. Your chiropractor should also adjust the bones in your feet. By restoring proper motion to the many joints within your foot, your muscles and tissues will be able to articulate properly.
You don’t have to live with plantar fasciitis for long if you take all of the steps above to address it.
~ Dr. John Blenio is a Chiropractic Physician in San Mateo, California who has had success resolving plantar fasciitis problems with these methods.