Plantar Fasciitis Rehab
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot conditions, and can cause extremely sharp and painful arch pain from the base of the heel to the base of the big toe. Your plantar fascia is the ligament structure on the sole of your foot that supports your longitudinal arches (arches from your heel to the ball of your foot). It’s accompanied by a number of tendons and muscles in your foot and calf region that contract your arch and keep it rigid during activity.
The function of the plantar fascia and arch in general is to act as a recruiter of your foot joints in distributing your body weight throughout your whole foot while standing and moving. It also functions as a spring for running and jumping by stretching when load is applied, allowing the many joints in your foot to move and absorb shock, and then bounce back to contract the foot and propel you forwards. This is coupled with the same function of the calf and achilles tendon.
When you have overuse, small tears, and inflammation in the plantar fascia, this created sharp pain and can be tough to heal due to having regular daily stress and poor blood supply. This is typically aggravated with loading (walking and running) and stretching by extending your toes towards your shin. Artificial arch support and taping etc. can be helpful in the initial acute phase and aid the inflammatory cool down, but prolonged use of these kind of supports can remove the natural stress it needs to develop and maintain strength and resilience. Just like muscles wasting away from disuse, as can the integrity of your plantar fascia and arch.
These exercises coupled with a transition to minimalistic footwear and time barefoot help increase the blood flow, strength, and healing rate of the plantar fascia, but need to be applied in a measured manner to avoid re-injury.
Other factors like leg length differences, knee/ankle/foot joint restrictions, and foot or calf muscle tightness can be driving factors for plantar fasciitis as well, and consulting a practitioner can be vital in identifying if this is the case for you.