Treating plantar fasciitis

By: Stefany Beall

Stefany Beall has been licensed for over six years and recently joined the team at Bellissimo Body Care. She has extensive training in the field of deep tissue, but has worked in the spa industry for many years, giving her a wide array of techniques. Treatment and goal oriented work is her passion. Fully understanding clients’ conditions and treating each person as an individual case is the most important aspect of Stefany’s kind of body work.

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that extends from the heel to the toes. It can have a large number of causes including improper foot wear, flat feet, tendinitis, stress fracture, arthritis and strain of the Achilles tendon.  A very common symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain when arising in the morning.

To explain how to treat plantar fasciitis you must know the structure and relationship of the foot and calf. The gastrocnemius runs along the back of the lower leg and eventually turns into the Achilles tendon before it blends into the plantar surface of the foot. Therefore the treatment of the condition needs to be focused on the calf to release the underlying dysfunction.

As a massage therapist who has also struggled with plantar fasciitis, I have known firsthand the pain and discomfort this condition causes and the affects it has on daily life and routine. The first step is to give an overall assessment of the body, learning how long the condition has been a factor, activity level, foot wear and prior injuries that may have contributed to the plantar fasciitis. The next step is to evaluate where the dysfunction is occurring.  Every situation is different. If a client is a long-distance runner, the focus would be on stretching and warming up paired with massage. Other times the client is on his or her feet for over eight hours a day and has an internally rotated hip. A rotated hip can cause the calf to be at an odd angle, which disrupts the patterns of the foot; therefore the focus would then be on the hip.

Once the history is known, I can begin treatment. Deep tissue is a technique that concentrates on the deeper muscle tissues by applying deep finger pressure on the fascia, Achilles heel and calf muscles through slow strokes. Deep tissue massage can help to release the muscle tension, break scar tissue and lead to its elimination. It concentrates on specific areas, leading to soreness before and after the massage, yet the results are definite and can be felt within just a couple of days.  If left untreated, plantar fasciitis may become a chronic condition and can lead to other foot, knee, hip and back problems due to the way pain impacts normal walking patterns.

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