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Our Winter Theme is Treat Your Feet!

By Alyse Jantzen RMT, RCRT

Now that winter is upon us, many of us are switching back and forth between boots, shoes, and sneakers. We are also more likely to walk like penguins in deep snowy days, throwing our anatomical gait and balance off. As a result, plantar fasciitis may develop in the bottom of our footsies.


What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is an often painful inflammatory condition of the plantar fascia, the tissue that connect the calcaneal tuberosity (heel bone) to the metatarsophalangeal joints along the plantar aspect of the foot. Plantar fascia serves to help us with our gait during dorsi flexion or plantar flexion of the foot when we are walking or exercising. Weight bearing on the heads of the metatarsal heads causes shortening the medial longitudinal arch when we place pressure on our toes. When a repeated stressor is placed on the plantar fascia, microtearing of the fascia ensues, which, if left over time, can cause severe pain and dysfunction of the fascia and surrounding structures including the calcaneaous, metatarsals and achilles tendon.


What are the symptoms?

• Redness, inflammation, pain on one or both feet on the anteroinferior medial border of calcaneous.
• Usually pain is worse upon initial standing or when placing pressure on the foot from sitting or lying down.
• Symptoms vary from mild discomfort to severe pain
• Usually unilateral but may be bilateral
• Worsens with excessive pressure on foot
• Rest for longer durations alleviates the pressure & pain
• If left untreated for an extended length of time, secondary pain may arise in hips, lower back, or legs of affected foot due to muscle guarding and poor gait


What are the causes?

• Pronation of the feet placing an undue strain along the medial arch
• Pes planus (flat feet – no arch support foot causing more pressure on calcaneus, ligaments, and fascia
• Pes Cavus (high arches)
• Running excessively
• Improper shoes without proper arch support (ie: flat ballet shoes, tight ill fitting shoes or stilettos (yes ladies our calves look great but our feet pay for glam)
Very Active or prolonged standing (ie: restaurant servers, factory workers, nurses)
• Pregnancy due to increased weight
• May be secondary to achilles tendonitis
• Bone spurs may also occur as a result if left untreated


Treatment Options for Tender Footsies:

• Ice bath for 5 minutes with foot in resting position. Do 2-3 times as needed daily to decrease pain and inflammation, then rest (especially crucial during acute phase). Caution: If burning and aching occurs remove immediately
• Self-Massage from toes to heels, as well as the achilles tendon or seek a Registered Massage Therapist to help increase range of motion of foot, stimulate healing and to breakdown adhesions in fascia to help with ease of movement and alleviation of pain barriers
• Place a ridged cold water bottle, foam roller or hard ball under foot, then roll foot over to help stimulate the area
• Doing active range of motion of foot (ie: from sitting position – rotate foot 10x one way, then 10x the other direction to help with motility of joints and circulation)
• Achilles Tendon Stretch: See below for full instructions. Caution: If Plantar fasciitis is inflammed AVOID stretching because it is already stretched, so you do not want to expand it futher causing tearing and injury
• Mustard foot bath: 2 – 4 tsps of Dry Powdered Mustard in small basin (large enough to hold both your feet) or use bathtub; mix in warm water up to ankles or lower leg; soak for 20 minutes; can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil (ie: peppermint is good for antiseptic and analgesic, lavender for calming). – This home spa remedy is great for tired, achy, sore feet and helps with circulation, sloughing off of dead skin cells and lymphatic drainage (edema can pool in feet & ankles after long periods of standing causing swelling).

Plantar fasciitis can be treated through most of the methods mentioned above within a month to a few months. If your plantar fasciitis is not improving please seek medical attention through your doctor. Sometimes, xrays or MRIs may be taken to rule out a bone fracture. Some doctors give corticosteroid injections or recommend surgery in worst case scenarios if all else fails.

So remember, don’t neglect your feet, they support you daily through your walk through life!! Happy Feet = Happy Body