Movement of the Month: Tackling Plantar Fasciitis
With Coach Kennedy
Unlike most months, when I will introduce you to a new movement, this month I tackle injuries, more specifically plantar fasciitis, how to deal with it on a day to day basis, and how to help you speed up your recovery from it, once you’ve been properly diagnosed. A proper diagnosis is KEY.
Firstly, what is plantar fasciitis (PF)?
PF is a common cause of heel pain which involves inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs from the heel of your foot (calcaneus) to the heads of your toes (metatarsal heads). To simplify further, plantar fasciitis is an over use injury of the plantar fascia, generally located at the inner portion of the heel bone (calcaneus).
Knowing that plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury indicates some sort of muscular imbalance happening in the ankle complex. While this is true from a mechanical stand point, we also need to consider the sensory connection. In fact, according to Dr. Emily Splichal (founder of EBFA- Education Based Fitness Academy and of the Barefoot
Certifications, “Understanding the sensory connection is KEY because a lot of PF is a loss of foot-to-ground sequencing with the stimulus coming in (vibrations). Walking and stabilizing, and the rate of impact forces coming in…it’s all a TIMING game.”
The secret to this timing game is about creating stiffness (an isometric contraction) in the lower leg and foot prior to hitting the ground. It has to be anticipatory, also known as pre-activation.
If you have muscular imbalances you may not be able to create the proper stiffness required at contact. Why not?
Because the rate at which the forces come in is far too fast! Waiting until your foot strikes the ground to react to whatever surface we contact is just not physically possible. Fast twitch muscles are slower than the forces coming in. In other words, we have to sub-consciously react with “stiffness” before ground contact, otherwise those impact forces are not absorbed by the fascia, but by the tendons and muscles, there-by contributing to overuse injuries, perhaps plantar fasciitis.
Some KEY points:
- Impact forces coming into our body are perceived as vibrations.
- Vibrations are absorbed in our fascia that surrounds muscles, when everything is working correctly. When we have imbalances or the inability to create stiffness in the lower leg, impact forces that come into the body, via the foot, are not absorbed correctly.
- If we’re unable to properly absorb those forces, then they resonate through the leg and foot contributing to soft tissue injuries.
So, if you are currently dealing with plantar fasciitis there are a few things that can be done.
- Work on sensory perception: Spend time barefoot daily, during exercise or at the very least indoors at home. Consider a Naboso mat to help with increasing the foot’s ability to “read” information by working on those receptors found in our feet.
- Work on Intrinsic muscle foot strength: We all work on extrinsic muscles, i.e. lower leg calve raise, yet most do nothing about the fine foot muscles. We can perform “short foot” to accomplish this.
- Proper recovery: Tissue work, pre and post exercise, SMR, and bunion booties to correct toes, as some examples.
Click the links below for videos to train the muscles of the foot, and help alleviate PF:
Foot recovery with roller/massage ball – Lower Leg
Foot recovery with roller – Foot
Foot recovery with Naboso mat – Short Foot excercise
****Please note that this should NOT override any instructions you have been given by your own practitioner, and that you should always get medical clearance when applying any new methods.
If you’re interested in learning more about this highly complex neuromuscular and mechanical structure and its relationship to our core, breathing, the brain, how to assess it and look at it functionally, then check out my Barefoot Specialist Level 1 Certification at www.KennedyLodato.com
“Remember, every exercise that involves the foot is a foot exercise.” EBFA Global.
Questions? Contact Coach Kennedy at email@example.com