Plantar Fasciitis (PF) is a painful inflammatory process of the plantar fascia—the connective tissue on the bottom surface of the foot (sole), a thick fibrous band of connective tissue originating on the bottom surface of the heel bone, and extending along the sole of the foot toward the toes. PF is an overuse condition of the foot causing disorganization and irritation of the plantar fascia.
The primary role of the plantar fascia is to absorb shock from the weight of the body by maintaining the longitudinal arch of the foot.
It has been reported that PF occurs in two million Americans a year and in 10% of the US population over a lifetime.
The pain is usually felt on the underside of the heel, and is often most intense with the first steps of the day. Another symptom is difficulty in dorsiflexion—bringing the toes toward the shin. A symptom commonly recognized among PF clients is an increased probability of knee pain, especially among runners.
The most common causes are two tight calf muscles, fallen arches, pelvic imbalance, trauma, weight gain, high heels, and pregnancy.
Clinical massage and bodywork treatment consists of lengthening the muscles in the calf first and then the plantar fascia, working between each long bone of the foot (metatarsals) to create movement, separation and space, bringing blood and oxygen to the intrinsic muscles, softening the deep interosseous membranes between the bones and adhesions to create joint space, and to help reduce calcification or bone spurs.
Home self-care is important: Specific stretching both calf muscles, one with a knee bent and the other with the knee locked, and the plantar fascia are critical in eliminating the symptoms of plantar fasciitis and maintaining the new healthy muscle lengths.