Many clients report pain in the heel with their first steps upon getting out of bed in the morning. This is a classic symptom of plantar fasciitis, also sometimes called “heel spurs” or “arch pain”. The plantar fascia (pf) is a tight, inelastic ligament that runs from the toes along the arch of the foot and inserts into the heel bone. When the pf pulls on the bone, micro-tears can be created resulting in pain and inflammation. Activities that increase the pull of the pf on the heel, as well as uncorrected over-pronation conditions may worsen the problem. In their book, Foot!, Care, Prevention and Treatment, Doctors Matthew B. Werd and E. Leslie Knight recommend initial steps (pun intended!) for plantar fasciitis folks can take to help alleviate the problem before it worsens to the point it needs serious medical attention. These include:
- Well-fitted and properly supported footwear. Arch supports, heel lifts or custom orthotics should be worn if necessary. (Ladies, note that wearing flats or flip-flops with no arch support may be making your problem worse!)
- Stretching and strengthening exercises before stepping out of bed in the morning. (See the simple pf stretch instructions below.)
- Roll a frozen water bottle along the arch of your foot for ten minutes, three times per day.
- Lose weight if necessary to help alleviate pressure on your heels.
- Choose lower impact sports activities, for instance walking or swimming instead of running.
- Avoid standing or walking barefoot, especially on hard surfaces.
Doctors Werd and Knight also specifically recommend Ingham Method® Reflexology in their book. They state “Reflexologists do an excellent job relieving tension in the feet, as well as stimulating blood flow and circulation. Additionally, Reflexologists are often able to pinpoint specific areas in the foot that relate to symptoms in other parts of the body.”
Stretch for Plantar Fascia This is recommended first thing in the morning, in bare feet, while still seated on the bed, before walking.
Cross left ankle over right knee. Grab base of all five toes on left foot with left hand and pull toes back toward left shin until feeling a stretch in the arch ligament (the plantar fascia). The plantar fascia will be prominent along the length of the arch of the foot being stretched and should be massaged with the right hand while keeping toes flexed. Repeat for right foot.
This is the disclaimer to remind you that I am not a licensed physician and cannot give medical advice or treatment. These are my personal opinions and my summary of research as well as verbal and written reports of some of my clients. As always, consult your doctor if you need medical advice or treatment.