Caitlin Cavarra Raymond, PT, DPT, OCS
How to Fully Recover from Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. If you've been there, you know how excruciating this condition can be...every step you can feel a sharp or burning pain in your heel. Or, it may feel like you are constantly stepping on something. I've dealt with plantar heel pain myself, and it was one of my most painful and toughest injuries to bounce back from.
Plantar fasciitis can affect your daily life and greatly interfere with your ability to walk, run or even exercise like you're used to. I remember missing my daily walks because my heel pain was so intense; it felt like my plantar fascia wanted to rip each step I took. This condition can be challenging to get relief since it's so difficult to offload the fascia.
The plantar fascia is a ligament with multiple bands as you can see in the image above. The main purpose of the plantar fascia is to provide passive support of the arch as we walk, run and support our body in our daily activities. With too much demand of the fascia, there can start to be micro-tears which eventually create inflammation and pain.
The best way to cure your heel pain is through STRENGTHENING. Yes, stretching can be helpful if you are very limited in your ankle mobility and calf flexibility....but stretching won't help you get back in the gym or out on the track. Getting stronger in your leg and foot will give your arch ACTIVE support instead of relying on the fascia for PASSIVE support.
Key muscles important to address in your lower leg and foot are the following:
Flexor Digitorum Brevis
These muscles all work together to support your feet and propel yourself as you walk, run, squat and lunge! Below are a few exercises to incorporate into your weekly routine. But, if you've been suffering with heel pain for longer than 2 months...contact me so we can help speed up your recovery process and create a plan specific to YOU.
1. Single Leg Calf Raise off Step
Start by pressing up with both legs, especially off your big toe.
Slowly lower on one leg
This works on eccentrically strengthening and lengthening the gastrocnemius, which is important for transferring forces as we walk and run!
2. Short Foot Exercise
Sit or stand and think of lifting up from the arch of your foot.
Try not to scrunch your toes, it is a subtle movement working the muscles of your arch that will actively support your feet as you move.
Holds 5 seconds and repeat for 3 minutes.
3. Wall Sits with Heel Raises
Get into a wall sit position and lift your heels up and down for 20-30 reps, 3-4 rounds.
This focuses on your soleus, which is an endurance muscle that supports our leg and feet especially with walking and running. Bonus quad burn as well!
Try these exercises out, performing 3x/week at minimum and see how your heel feels! If you want to recover quicker or learn additional ways I can help you, reach out today so we can create a customized plan for you to get back to what you love to do. Call/text 615.982.4062 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.