An Integrated Approach to Treating Plantar Fasciitis

Brianna Clark
August 19, 2019

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a very common cause of foot and heel pain, especially with runners and athletes. Simply, this is an overuse injury. It involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot attaching your heel bone to your toes – called the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is meant to support the arch of your foot to help in walking.

For athletes and runners especially, the plantar fascia ligaments experience a lot of wear and tear during high-activity periods. Normally, the plantar fascia acts as a shock absorber. But too much pressure on your feet can damage or tear the ligaments resulting in inflammation and stabbing pain.

The Anatomy of Wellness has developed a treatment protocol designed to provide relief from plantar fasciitis. Our approach combines a variety of modalities to help you achieve maximal results: clinical massage therapy, stretch therapy, kinesio taping, and for specific clients corrective exercise programs to address movement dysfunction. (For a great article regarding corrective exercise, check out this article by Natalie Foster, one of our clinical therapists and movement experts).

Massage Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis

Deep tissue massage for plantar fasciitis focuses deep pressure on the fascia, Achilles heel, and calf muscles. Typically, your therapist apply massage strokes in 2 manners: (1) by following the muscle fibers and (2) by traversing across tendons. Using this approach, we are able to reduce muscle tension and break up scar tissue. Yes, you will be sore after this treatment, but the results are proven and felt within a few days.

Please keep in mind, we do not recommend treatment on any individuals with open scars or those with a history of blood clots. Clots can be displaced to other areas causing downstream issues.

Deep tissue massage works because it physically breaks down the adhesions that are formed by muscle tissues in the muscles caused by over-exertion or strain.

In September 2013, Manual Therapy Journal published an article, “Deep massage to posterior calf muscles in combination with neural mobilization exercises as a treatment for heel pain: A pilot randomized clinical trial”. This article showcased the beneficial effects of deep tissue massage when combined with corrective exercise. The trial involved 69 patients that were randomized to receive deep tissue massage or ultrasound.

The results showed that the massage group exhibited a statistically significant improvement in function compared to the ultrasound group.

Stretch Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis

While deep tissue massage has been shown to decrease pain from plantar fasciitis, adding stretch therapy into your treatment plan can substantially improve the outcome. A 2014 study published by The Permanente Journal found that “plantar fascia specific stretching had the best statistically significant long-term results” for reducing pain resulting from plantar fasciitis. Sometimes, tightness in your Achilles tendon and calf may contribute to plantar fasciitis.

The Anatomy of Wellness’s pain and injury clinical treatments incorporate plantar fascia-specific stretches, including:

  • Calf stretch
  • Rolling stretch
  • Plantar fascia stretch
  • Foot flexes
  • Towel curls

Kinesio Tape for Plantar Fasciitis

Kinesio tape is one treatment we use to help provide relief from your plantar fasciitis. K-tape is a non-invasive treatment and we use the high quality products from RockTape. How does kinesiology tape for plantar fasciitis help?

  • Decrease pain
  • Take the pressure off of your plantar fascia
  • Support your foot’s natural arch
  • Facilitate muscles surrounding your foot to provide more support.

By using kinesiology tape on your foot, you may be able to provide better support to your arch and decrease the pain and pressure on the plantar fascia. This may help you return to normal walking and running faster, especially when paired with massage therapy and potentially corrective exercise.

Corrective Exercise for Plantar Fasciitis

Through a functional movement assessment performed by our certified Corrective Exercise Specialists, a corrective exercise treatment plan is developed.
Risk factors for developing plantar fasciitis and foot pain include running, prolonged weight-bearing, kneeling on the foot for extended periods of time (think gardening), obesity, and limited ankle dorsiflexion.
With any type of repetitive movement comes the development of muscle imbalances. Corrective exercise corrects muscle imbalances which gives the tissue a fighting chance to heal completely without re-injury getting in the way.
Once the body is trained to move properly, you can expect long-lasting pain relief.
picture of foot to show where plantar fasciitis occurs

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