Before we delve into the causes and corrections of Plantar Fasciitis, we first must have a general understanding of where it occurs as it pertains to the anatomy of the foot
The foot is comprised of a total of 26 individual bones. Of these, the toes contain 14 with three per toe, with the exception of the biggest of the toes, which only has two. All these bones are comprised into three separate arches which help us to negotiate differing levels of terrain. We call these arches the transverse, medial and longitudinal arches.
The arch that we are concerned with is the medial longitudinal arch which runs along the inside of the foot. Along this arch is a wide, thick ligament which runs from the heel to the balls of the feet before ending at the toes. This is the plantar fascia and when it is subjected to above average amount of strain it begins to over-stretch and tear. Now unfortunately when we rest for long periods of time such as sleeping, our body attempts to heal itself and lays down scar tissue. This doesn't pose much of a problem until rising and we find ourselves in pain as this newly formed scar tissue tears. Hence the notion that with Plantar Fasciitis, the first step is the worst.
Of the two main causes of Plantar Fasciitis, an increase in weight is the most common. This can be caused by any number of factors including pregnancy, inactivity or just plain eating too much. With this increase in weight, more pressure is exerted on the bottom of the foot which in turn stretches the medial longitudinal arch and ultimately the plantar fascia itself.
A bit less common but still as painful is the effect of over-stretching and tearing of the plantar fascia ligament due to walking improperly. When we walk, most of our weight should land on the outside of the heel and transfer to the outside of the foot where we push off with our big toe and begin again. However when our foot biomechanics are off-kilter, this weight is transferred to the inside of the foot which causes the same injury as carrying too much weight.
One of the most common problems discovered with foot biomechanics is the overpronation syndrome. This entails the person rolling over too much onto the inside of the foot. This puts excessive strain on the medial longitudinal arch and can cause tearing of the plantar fascia. This excessive strain on the inside of the foot can result in over-stretching of other ligaments in the foot leading to flat feet (pes planus). If this condition persists too long, a heel spur may form where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis can be accomplished by either losing the extra weight if that is the source or also by rolling a golf ball lightly under the foot which helps strip down the scar tissue. Try not to press down too hard or it is possible to bruise the foot in the process. Another recommended treatment is to have your chiropractic professional adjust your foot to help with the symptoms.
The heel has two main directions in which it can move: diagonally forward or diagonally backward. Usually the heel moves backward due to tension from the Achilles tendon and from weight-bearing pressure. By adjusting the heel forward, it will relieve tension in the plantar fascia and can relieve symptoms. If these methods do not seem to offer benefit, it may be necessary to have a pair of prescription orthotics made for your feet. These are custom-fit insoles which offer support to the feet to help ensure a proper gait cycle thereby reducing the amount of strain on the plantar fascia.