What The Heck Is A Fascia?
Without going super-scientific, fascia is basically the connective tissue that links your body from head to toe. When you are young and healthy, this material is flexible and elastic which is great because it allows you to move with fluidity and free of pain.
However, as you age or become injured, your connective fascia starts to harden and become stiff. This is a big problem because when your fascia can’t stretch properly, your bones, spinal discs, and other parts of your body become overly stressed.
Starting a few years ago, I had a big problem with standing for long periods of time on hard ground. After about 30-60 minutes, I would lose feeling in my heels and literally pass out. I had no idea what was causing this, but it was extremely painful in my heels, and very inconvenient… who likes to randomly pass out all of the time?
I remember going to a concert with my family and the girl I was dating at the time, where I literally had to spend the last half of the concert sitting in the bathroom to take the pressure off my heels instead of enjoying the music up near the stage. Not fun at all!
Eventually through lots of research I realized that the real problem was not having the proper flexibility in my connective fascia from my toes all the way up to my knees and hips.
A podiatrist I visited wanted me to get cortisone shots injected into my feet. This is apparently very painful and I wanted to find a more natural fix.
Luckily I Found a Solution
Today, I have resolved this problem by about 90% through two main fixes.
Step 1. Stretch!
There are a few key stretches that I do several times a day that seem to help me tremendously. Each of them focuses on stretching out the muscles and fascia that connect your posterior chain. This is the group of muscles that link your feet all the way up to your lower back, on the back side of your body.
Downward Dog is a staple of yoga. This pose stretches the entire backside of your legs and feet and feels awesome! Take it easy at first, and as you warm up focus on pushing your butt back to the wall and your heels down to the ground. You’ll be amazed at how much your flexibility increases if you practice this one daily.
In order to fully stretch your calf, you need to hit both heads of the muscle. The first head is stretched by holding a straight back leg. The second head is stretched by bending your back knee and fighting to keep your heel planted into the ground while pushing your knee forward.
Lying Hamstring Stretch
The final stretch I perform while working to correct my plantar fasciitis is a hamstring stretch while lying down.
Take a belt in both hands and wrap it around the ball of your foot as shown in the photo. With both arms pull the belt to stretch your foot towards you while keeping your vertical leg as straight as possible.
The key to this is keeping your bottom leg firmly pressing into the ground to protect the curve in your lower back.
Step 2. Get The Right Heel Support!
I spent months trying to get shoes with more and more padding in the heel. This never seemed to alleviate the problem, and actually caused a new one — an unnatural curve in my lower back from too much tilt in my feet.
What I learned was that they key to getting the right foot support is actually finding an insert that supports your arch and keeps your planar fascia stretched out so that it can’t return to it’s shortened state.
I found these heel seats from Heel That Pain. At first I was a bit skeptical about the reviews because everything seemed to paint them as a gift straight from heaven. After wearing them for the past 8 months, I am a believer!
These heel seats feel odd at first. I wasn’t used to having my arch raised into the correct shape so there was a constant dull pressure on the bottom of my foot. It didn’t hurt but it certainly was unusual.
Now that my feet have been re-shaped into proper form, I can walk around barefoot again. It’s still unbelievable to me! I recommend them to anyone that struggles with PF, as it saved me about $800 from buying custom orthotic inserts.
I hope this info helps you. Plantar Fasciitis stinks. It’s debilitating and makes every day life much less fun.
However I’m thrilled to report that I’ve found a solution that works for me and gets rid of most of the pain.