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  • Writer's pictureKevin Fitzgerald

Foot pain and plantar fasciitis

Updated: Dec 17, 2022

Foot pain and plantar fasciitis

I regularly see people with foot pain that is very debilitating making their first steps in the morning excruciating and walking any distance very difficult. Arch strain and plantar fasciitis are the most common diagnosis. All of these are caused by biomechanical disturbances.

The most prescribed treatments are ice, rest, orthotics, new shoes, anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroid injections. All of these may given you some relief from symptoms but none of them treat the underlying causes.

Variance in shape and size

I find human feet fascinating. The variance in shape and size of our feet from one person to another is greater than any other part of our body. We are born with similar looking feet containing 24 bones but as we start to stand, walk, jump and run we use our various muscles and fascia to create our arches and shape our feet.

For you to walk and run in an upright position requires a unique foot with major support from the heel. With a high centre of gravity and a small base, you rely on the arches of your feet and the muscles and fascia of your lower legs.

Your arches and ‘puppet strings’

Your arches influence the dynamic balance between stability and springy lightness in your step as well as the ability to change direction instantly and to walk on uneven surfaces. Your lower leg muscles and fascia are like the ‘puppet strings’ that pull your arches into shape.

In my experience these ‘puppet strings’ are disturbed by the main assaults that are placed on your feet resulting in them pulling the arches out of alignment loosing their ability to absorb and dissipate the large forces that transmit through your small feet from your upright body.

The most susceptible arches are the medial longitudinal arch (inside of your foot) and the lateral longitudinal arch (outside of your foot).

Transverse arch Although not a true arch the transverse arch is well constructed in terms of shapes of bones and is rarely injured except when you jump out of a aeroplane without a parachute. Not a good idea.

Medial longitudinal arch The medial longitudinal arch is composed of the talus, navicular and the three cunneiform bones. It is part of an axis of movement from your big toe to the outside of your heel that bears most of your body’s weight and is subject to collapse.

Underneath it is supported by the plantar fascia which is stretched like a triangular trampoline plus the shorter and deeper plantar ligament and spring ligament.

Inflamed plantar fascia from muscle sling imbalance The tibialis anterior and peroneus longus form a muscle sling under the medial arch and attach on the small thin bone (fibula) on the outside of your lower leg near your knee. When they loose their delicate balance the medial arch collapses, the plantar fascia and ligaments take the increased strain and become inflamed

This is the cause of plantar fasciitis where you commonly have a flat (pronated) foot with the tibialis anterior locked long and the peroneus longus locked short. The reverse is true for a high arch (supinated foot). Myofascial release massage techniques can help release adhesions in the fascia of your tibialis anterior and peroneus longus and restore the optimum function of your medial arch.

Plantar fascitis – other areas effected Also in plantar fasciitis the ankle joint and heel bone are involved requiring mobilisation of the ankle joint and release of the calf muscles.

Plantar fasciitis often correlates with tight hamstrings, lumbar lordosis, and resistant hypertension in the upper (cervicals) neck.

Lateral longitudinal arch The arch of the outside of your foot, the lateral longitudinal arch, acts like an outrigger of your foot where the medial arch acts like the canoe. The lateral arch helps in balancing the weight on your feet. I can help you by mobilising the fifth metatarsal joint as well as checking the function of your medial arch and your ankle joint.

Flat feet and orthotics Some times flat feet are the result of laxity of the ligaments of the tarsal bones of the feet and therefore orthotic arch support maybe needed.  A male client who was a hairdresser with flat feet experienced pain in his legs, hips, pelvis, back, neck and headaches.

Massage relieved his symptoms but they always came back when he stood all day at work. After a bit of searching, he received a pair of orthotics to wear in his shoes and all his pain disappeared. An awesome result for him.

If you would like a massage at Brunswick Heads Massage to support the function of your foot arches, please click to BOOK ONLINE or contact Kevin on 0408 694 655 today to book an appointment. Best wishes in the care of your precious feet.

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