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  • Writer's pictureRobin Hill LMT, RN

My Foot Hurts!

Plantar Fasciitis:  Foot or Calf problem?



Many people, and even doctors, assume that plantar fasciitis is a foot problem because that is where the pain is, right?  WRONG ASSUMPTION!


We have two calf muscles that are involved in this condition.  They are the gastrocnemius (gastroc), which is the one you can visually see, and the soleus, which is deeper, underneath the gastroc.  The two calf muscles join together and form the Achilles tendon, the thick taut band at the back of the ankle.  That band wraps underneath the heel bone (calcaneus) and as it leaves the calcaneus bone it becomes the plantar fascia.  The plantar fascia is a thick band of fascia that connects your heel bone to your toes.





When the calf muscles get too tight for an extended amount of time, they start pulling on the Achilles tendon, which in turn pulls on the plantar fascia. The soleus is generally the culprit with plantar fasciitis.  With that constant pulling, the plantar fascia starts to tear away from the calcaneus bone resulting in pain.


Plantar Fasciitis symptoms: 

Stabbing pain on the bottom of the foot near the heel, especially the first few steps out of bed.  When you are sleeping at night your muscles are relaxed and the healing process begins.  Normally when we relaxed and sleeping, your toes are pointed slightly down.  When the plantar fascia begins to heel in this position, the first few steps out of bed re-tear that tissue which is why those steps are so painful.


Please do not ignore these warnings signs.  Letting this go can result in chronic heel pain and can take years to recover from.  One complication from plantar fasciitis is that a bone spur can develop in the plantar fascia near the attachment point of the heel.  The body is trying to heal that fascia and wants to support it and make it stronger and by laying down bone where bone is not supposed to be.  This results in a jagged, spur type structure that causes pain with walking.  It is possible to control your pain even with a spur, without surgical intervention.  The foot pain can cause you to limp and walk differently, which can cause knee, hip and back problems.


How do you treat this at home?



Freeze a water bottle and do ice massage on the bottom of the foot by rolling it.


Night splint- this device you can get online.  You would wear it at night and your foot is kept in a flexed position so the fascia can heal in its proper alignment.  Some people have found this helpful and some have not.  Depends on your body and how severe the tears are.


You can also make an appointment with your favorite massage/stretch therapist :)



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