Thursday, August 11, 2011
How To Treat (and Avoid) Plantar Fasciitis
Here’s a decent little video on what plantar fasciitis is and how to treat it in its acute phase. What it doesn’t cover is how to get rid of it or, better yet, prepare your body so that you don’t get it in the first place. Once you get it there’s no way around a fairly lengthy rehab process and it’s not all that hard to avoid. Here are a few exercises that, when done regularly, will greatly reduce the chance of you getting plantar fasciitis. When you have it, these are also your go-to movements.
A,B,Cs: I hate it when doctors prescribe this exercise as a treatment for foot injuries. Not because it’s bad but because once you have foot issues you must get more aggressive with your rehab and this tends to get prescribed the most only because it’s simple. All you do is draw the alphabet with your feet in the morning before getting out of bed. If I’m spending a lot of time on my feet—like when I’m running ultras—I’ll do the alphabet both forward and backwards, slowly. It’s a great warm-up for your feet prior to getting out of bed.
In and outs: While A,B,Cs are a great warm-up, you need to strengthen all the muscles of your foot and ankel so that it doesn’t collapse, which is probably how you got PF in the first place. This exercise can be done anytime and anywhere. Sit with your legs parallel about two fist widths apart, feet flat. Rotate your toes inward as far as they can go, forcing your weight onto the outside of your foot. Now rotate out as far as you can go, forcing weight onto the inside of your foot. Do 50 reps daily until this is easy. Then you only need to do it once in a while to ensure you haven’t lost your strength.
Towel Crunches: I use a hand towel (wash cloth). Sit as above with a small towel on the ground in from of you with the edge under your toes. Use your toes to crunch up the towel as small as you can get it. Then use your toes to flatten it back out. Do 25 if you can. If not, that is the benchmark of strength you are looking for.
Toe raises: Stand with your back flat against a wall, feet together, flat on the ground, out in front of you about a foot or so. Now raise your toes while keeping your back presses flat against the wall. This works the tibialis anterior muscle on the front of your leg, which helps balance flexor/extensor leg strength and will also keep you from getting shin splints. Do 50 a day until they feel easy, then do them once a week or so for maintenance.