It’s beginning to warm up outside, which for most people means an increase in wearing flip-flops and running or walking outside. These changes in footwear and activity can often mean an increase in the number of patients with foot pain, most commonly foot pain caused by plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis involves the plantar fascia, a thick rope of connective tissue that stretches from heel to toes and forms the arch of the foot. This condition can be caused by excessive strain on the foot muscles and connective tissues which can result in heel spurs and/or degeneration of the plantar fascia in the form of micro tears. The pain caused by these little imperfections varies in each patient. Most commonly it is described as a sharp pain near the heel that is mostly noticed first thing in the morning and gradually improves throughout the day. Some people describe it as a feeling of something stuck to their foot; my favorite description is, “I feel like there is a Dorito under my skin!”
So, how does a chiropractor treat a condition like this?
Typically, patients with plantar fasciitis have tight gastrocnemius and soleus (calf) muscles that are putting strain on the plantar fascia by their attachment through the Achilles tendon. These patients can be athletes, women who wear high heels or transition often between high heels and flat shoes, or simply weekend warriors who participated in a strenuous activity they were not conditioned for. Regardless of footwear and activity, the tight calf muscles should be stretched and reconditioned and the affected foot should be adjusted to ensure a healthy, functional movement pattern.
“I’m not willing to stop wearing heels/running/participating in my sport, how can I avoid another spell of pain?”
There are exercises your chiropractor can demonstrate and teach you to perform that will strengthen your intrinsic foot muscles and help avoid future complications. Occasionally, some patients find they enjoy the benefits of having their feet adjusted and even request that their feet continue to get pampered with adjustments. These adjustments, exercises and stretches will help keep your feet pain-free!