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Massage Focus: Ouch, my foot!

There is a tell-tell sign that every massage therapist knows when our clients describe that pulling pain in the arch of their foot. If you've been having chronic foot pain, it could be something called Plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is when the thick band of fascia on the bottom of your foot becomes chronically inflamed. Fascia is connective tissue that surrounds all of the muscles in our body, a layer between our skin and our muscles that fits us like a glove. Often when we have an area that feels tight and sore, it's the fascia being inflamed and tight that we are feeling.

Signs that your foot pain could be Plantar fasciitis include pain and tenderness when walking, especially during the part of your step where you are "pushing off". You may especially feel the tenderness in your heel and arch area at the bottom of your foot. Often the pain is more noticeable when you first get up in the morning or after standing or sitting for long periods of time.

Foot diagram
That red part right there may be your problem!

The plantar fascia acts like a bowstring to support the arch of the foot. Wearing shoes that don't give you proper arch support can definitely be a cause of Plantar fasciitis. Prolonged repetitive motion is another big cause along with improper shoes, as well as being flat footed, having high arches, toe running, hill running, sudden increase in activity, being overweight, arthritis, and diabetes. Prolonged issues with Plantar fasciitis can lead to heel spurs and even tearing of the fascia.

So how can we help treat Plantar fasciitis? Usually rest is necessary and maybe using medications to reduce pain and inflammation. Osteopathic doctors and chiropractors can offer help. If your pain is not too extreme, massage can be very helpful. Massaging the inflamed and rigid facia can help it relax and loosen.

Spa, foot massage, epsom salt soak
Give those footsies a little soak!

Soaking feet in a warm epsom salt bath is also helpful, as is using massage tools at home to keep the fascia loose and flexible. You can find self-massage tools online specifically for Plantar fasciitis but one of my favorite tools to use is a frozen plastic bottle of water. Use the disposable kind, not your nice Yeti, and stick it in a freezer till the water inside is frozen. Then roll the bottle back and forth under your foot, right in the area where the fascia is tight and painful. Apply pressure to your comfort level. This can help loosen up the fascia and also the cold of the ice can help with pain relief.

Have questions about Plantar fasciitis? Be sure to ask me at your next appointment!

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