Intro To Plantar Fasciitis Exercises
Plantar fasciitis is not fun! The pain itself is bad enough but starting the day with pain (as many sufferers do) isn’t psychologically that great either, nor is finding that you are limited from enjoying the basics of a normal active life.
The one good thing that comes out of all this pain and frustration is the motivation to perform exercises for plantar fasciitis. With some less frustrating and limiting conditions it is notoriously hard to get people to ‘comply’ with rehab processes, but exercises for plantar fasciitis in my experience just get done.
The challenge from a patient perspective is knowing which exercises for plantar fasciitis to do because there are so many out there. Not only are there individual exercises for plantar fasciitis to choose from but one must choose between completely different types of exercise for plantar fasciitis. Let us take a look at some of the broader themes and weigh them up.
Foot & Calf Stretches for Plantar Fasciitis
The repetitive strain mechanisms of plantar fasciitis (which come from the way you stand, walk and run) create gradual tightening and scarification of the muscles and fascial tissues of your foot and calf. Remembering this fact, it makes perfect sense to stretch out these tissues and prevent them getting too tight!
For some people stretching exercises for plantar fasciitis can bring quite a lot of relief as the tension goes out of the tissues. It is however important to understand that if we want good long-term outcomes we need to look into the underlying reasons for the tightness; as opposed to just stretching out repeatedly only to watch pain and tightness return.
Foot Strength Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis
The human foot was designed to interact with the type of soft uneven surfaces we see in nature.
The hard and flat nature of modern urban walking surfaces like concrete and paving do 2 major things to the foot. The first effect is to create unnatural amounts of shock and compression in the joints and soft tissue of the foot. The second effect is weakness, when the foot doesn’t have the constant muscle activity that comes from being on uneven surfaces the wee muscles of the foot weaken.
The combination of the unnatural strain that comes from concrete and the flatness of concrete weaken our feet. Foot strength exercises for plantar fasciitis are a major part of the solution!
Glute & Knee Strength Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis
The primary thing to understand about muscle strength and stability in your feet and ankles is that they don’t really have much. The foot and ankle are bony areas with very little muscles mass. When your delicate and bony human feet bear the strain of your entire body weight in motion they needs lots of help in order to not collapse.
When your body weight transitions through your foot during walking and running the primary mechanism that prevents collapse is activation of your hip and knee muscles. If the hip and knee muscles don’t fire your arch will collapse during weight bearing.
If the arch is allowed to collapse during weight bearing due to weakness in the hip and knee, stress occurs in the plantar fascia. The very best exercises for plantar fasciitis in the long term are therefore those that stabilise the hip and knee.
Balance & Stability Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis
N.B This topic is not entirely separate from glute & knee exercises for plantar fasciitis so everything stated above applies here too.
Humans walking upright on 2 legs is one of nature’s engineering feats. Clever old Mother Nature took a 300 million year old design (the quadruped ) and somehow tweaked it upright and she did so in a relative blink of an eye.
Consider how long it takes a puppy to get to the walking and running stage.. and how long did it take you to get there.. weeks versus years. This is how difficult and challenging it is to adjust to the world when you traded in 2 of your legs for some hands and a giant brain. But why is this specifically relevant to which exercises for plantar fasciitis you choose?
When you walk on 2 legs (remember it takes us years to learn to do without falling over) there is a huge amount of fine motor control involved in the muscles of the lower trunk and lower limb. This symphony of muscle activity is what enables us to move but it is also what ensures even distribution of pressure in the feet during times of movement.
By using balance type exercises for plantar fasciitis, you can re-learn to conduct the symphony of fine muscle activity in your lower limb. This can prevent the build up of scar tissue in your feet and potentially protect you your from other issues like falls, knee pain, osteoarthritis, back pain and hip pain..
The uncomfortable truth is that while pain relief for plantar fasciitis can for many of you come quite quick, preventing re-occurrence of plantar fasciitis pain is a job for the longer term. That’s where exercises for plantar fasciitis really come in.
Choosing full resolution of your pain is an honourable path, but it really does mean being willing to grit your teeth and do the right plantar fasciitis exercises. When you do so your reward is the preservation of freedom, not the freedom that comes with wealth or human rights though .. the most basic freedom of being able to move.