by Nora Gilman, MS, LAT, ATC
Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia and is very common. We have fascia all over our body. There are some areas where the fascia is thicker, such as the IT Band and the plantar fascia. The purpose of fascia is to transmit energy from one body part to another. If there was an acute instance that injured the plantar fascia, such as a tear, letting it heal is priority. If there is chronic pain in the plantar fascia, this is due to a transfer-of-energy problem and rest to let it ‘heal’ is less of a priority and will not likely fix the problem.
What is a transfer-of-energy problem?
When running, our body works in subsystems and muscle chains. Subsystems are the coordinated movement of joints for locomotion and generate force needed for athletic activities such as running or walking. Muscle chains are muscles that work together to create movement. Most of the time, plantar fasciitis on both feet are a problem with the posterior chain which are the plantar fascia, calves, hamstring, glutes, and spinal muscles. Plantar fasciitis in one foot could be a problem with the lateral subsystem.
Plantar fasciitis in both feet
Your calves and plantar fascia are not power muscles. If there is a problem in your posterior chain, it's common for the calves and plantar fascia to try and be a power muscle which causes inflammation and pain. Your glute muscles are much more suited for power. The priority here is to modify your activity and strengthen other muscles of the posterior chain with an emphasis on the glutes.
Plantar fasciitis in one foot
The lateral subsystem consists of the hip muscles and opposite low back. If this subsystem is weak or not stabilizing our pelvis, it will not stabilize our foot as well. The priority here is to modify your activity and practice stabilizing your foot with a level pelvis, using your hip muscles.
Other possible reasons for chronic plantar fasciitis is a stress fracture in the metatarsals, a bone spur on the heel, or an underlying tear in the fascia. All these pathologies will not resolve from the above suggestions.
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