As the summer begins so does the incidence of plantar fascia pain in addition to many sports injuries. Warmer weather often encourages people to begin running outside or increase their running volume. This is a great thing as spending more time outside, away from desks, computers and smart phones is extremely beneficial (see previous blog posts for more info on this!). However, the body is often ill-prepared for running when first jumping back into things.
Running is a repetitive movement involving continuous impact on the ground beneath the body. This repetition will also result in several repetitions of any movement compensation that may be present. As these repetitions accumulate so does the stress associated with them and suddenly pain can occur.
This does not mean that running is a bad activity. It simply may expose something that was already there.
The foot is an area that often to compensates for things that may or may not be occurring elsewhere in the body. Many people pronate or flatten the arches of their feet to better shock absorb or advance the body forward. However, this is usually a compensation that is occurring in place of an area that may not being doing its job optimally. For example, the body will compensate at the foot when it is not able to move properly at the pelvis and hips during the running cycle.
Other people may have high arches which creates a very rigid foot and displaces the mass of the body onto the outside of the foot. This results in poor shock absorption when the foot contacts the ground and decreased control from the moment the foot hits the ground. A high arch is often created when the body is unstable in the lower back, pelvis, hips or knees. The foot creates a larger arch and becomes excessively stable to compensate for a lack of stability somewhere else.
Many people’s first solution when dealing with plantarfascia pain is to roll the bottom of their foot on a tennis ball as a self-massage technique. This can be helpful however will only provide temporary symptom relief as it is not solving the root cause of the issue.
The best way to deal with plantarfascia pain is to discover the root causes of the issue and address it accordingly. Our body is a system that works together and we must treat it as such in order to get out of pain and back to running or whatever it is that we love to do.