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Foot injuries stretches

Plantar Fasciitis treatment – 6 easy ideas to try at home!

Plantar Fasciitis treatment

Plantar Fasciitis is painful and we are here to offer some easy to do at home plantar fasciitis treatment.

what is the plantar fascia

The term literally means inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a thick band of rigid tissue that extends from your heel to your toes. The function of this fascia is to help your foot transition from the shock absorption phase (heel contact to foot being flat) to becoming a rigid lever for push off as the heel rises and the toes bend.

Plantar fasciitis is one of the more common and troublesome injuries among runners. It is characterized by pain in the heel and / or arch. You will often feel the pain with the first few steps in the morning or when beginning to walk after sitting for a while.

Initially, the pain may ease as you warm up into your run. If you have a mild case you can usually continue training, a more stubborn case needs rest.

stretching as a plantar fasciitis treatment

Lots of stretching! Research has demonstrated that the plantar fascia stretch is more effective than calf stretches. In our experience it is essential to perform the plantar fascia stretch, as well as the bent knee calf stretches and straight knee calf stretches two to three times per day.

Also, perform a non-weight bearing calf stretch before walking or getting out of bed (as much as practically possible). By improving calf flexibility there will be less strain on the plantar fascia.

ice massage as a plantar fasciitis treatment

Ice massage is a very effective way to help reduce your pain. A good and easy ice massage technique is to use a frozen water bottle or orange. Place the bottle / orange on the floor and roll it under your foot until the bottom of your foot goes numb.

The orange is nice because the massage is a little more focused and the bottle is nice because it is very cold.

self massage for plantar fasciitis

Self-massage can also be quite helpful, especially before getting out of bed or before a run.

We prefer a technique where you use the heel of your hand to massage across the arch while flexing the big toe with your other hand.

If you prefer you can use inexpensive massage balls – designed for this very purpose, like this one. 

Using insoles as a plantar fasciitis treatment

Insoles or orthotics (custom foot supports) may be able to position the foot in a way that reduces strain on the plantar fascia.

The insoles can relieve the pressure of the heel, improve the bad functioning of the foot and reduce stress and stretch the ligament of plantar fasciitis that is the cause of discomfort.

Insoles like these from Dr Scholl – a market leader in these kind of products – are inexpensive and can be used in almost any type of footwear.

go barefoot!

Try walking barefoot in grass or on sand for 2-4 minutes after the initial painful period has subsided. This technique can be helpful to progress to the next level. This works for a couple of reasons…

First, walking on soft grass genlty bends and twists your foot stretching in ways that help workout tight muscles in the foot. Second, the gentle bending and twisting also strengthens the small muscles in the foot.

A strong butt

Bum strengthening exercises are important because you will lose strength in the gluteal muscles since you cant push off as firmly. This may lead to other injuries down the road (no pun intended).

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A final consideration: Some arthritic conditions may have similar symptoms to plantar fasciitis. We would recommend that you talk to your doctor if you are concerned about this.

Good luck with your plantar fasciitis treatment and recovery!

other posts we think could help
  • How about more on stretching to solve the problem?
  • Self massage is a free and easy thing to try. Learn more here.
  • Our general principles of recovery information is a good basis for all running recovery.
Categories
Foot injuries

Sever's Disease – The Injured Runner

Sever’s Disease is an ominous name for a simple inflammatory condition that affects the area where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel. It is most common in children who are growing rapidly and involved in sports such as soccer, basketball, and running.

Your child’s bones are growing at a faster rate than the tendon, resulting in extra tension where the tendon attaches to the bone. Combine this tightness with increased activity, and you get heel pain.

If your child is limping we recommend not allowing them to run. Pain after activity is acceptable as long as you are working on the following treatments.

  • A heel lift will help decrease strain on the tendon.
  • Stretching exercises are essential to decrease the tension of the Achilles tendon pulling on the heel. These stretches may be painful at first, start gently and increase the effort as pain decreases. See bent knee calf stretches and straight knee calf stretches.
  • Ice is particularly effective for this condition.
  • Physical therapists can apply a treatment called iontophoresis, which is the use of an electrical current to apply a steroid medication over the sore area.
Categories
Foot injuries Recovery

Ankle Sprains – The Injured Runner

Ankle sprains are a risk of running and happen to most people over the course of their running career – many people more than once. Here are some tips for gentle sprains. Please remember that a more severe sprain deserves proper evaluation at the doctors!

  • If you are limping when you walk consider using crutches until you no longer limp. Yes, crutches are a nuisance, but using them for just a few days can dramatically improve your recovery time. Try to walk with a normal pattern using the crutches to reduce weight on the ankle instead of keeping your foot off of the ground.
  • Instead of running or walking, cycle for a few days. Cycling will help get your ankle moving during the painful period and also provides some mental therapy. Limit your running or walking distance to what you can do without limping. If you want to exercise more, supplement your program with cross training i.e. water running, cycling or an elliptical trainer.
  • Ice applications help stop the inflammatory process. Wrap a flexible ice pack around your ankle for fifteen minutes with your ankle elevated (above your heart). Repeat two to four times per day and continue until the swelling is substantially improved.
  • Compression helps to reduce the swelling (which will slow your recovery). Use a two inch elastic wrap to firmly wrap your ankle (not so tight that you restrict blood flow).
  • As symptoms improve begin gentle calf stretches. Limitation of motion in this direction is the most common complication following an ankle sprain. Make sure you stick with these stretches until both ankles are able to bend the same amount. You shouldn’t run until this motion is equal.
  • A sprain can substantially alter your balance and lead to future injuries or re-injury. Balance training can be as simple as practicing standing on just the injured leg and letting your ankle keep you stable. When you’ve mastered that, try doing the same thing with your eyes closed.
  • For a more advanced approach you can purchase a balance board and toss a ball against a wall while standing on it.
Categories
Foot injuries

Metatarsalgia – The Injured Runner

Metatarsalgia literally means “metatarsal pain”. If you have this condition you may feel like the ball of your foot is bruised. This is different from Morton’s Neuroma where the pain is between the metatarsal bones and different from a stress fracture where the pain is usually slightly behind the ball of the foot.

There are a lot of nerves in your foot so if this becomes painful it can really hurt. The pain is from general irritation of the joints and tendons near the ball of your foot. You can usually continue running but cut back on the mileage. If you are limping you have to give it even more rest.

  • A metatarsal pad is a small, slightly triangular, pad that can be placed behind the painful area to provide relief (see metatarsal pad). The pad supports the transvers arch reducing on the ball of the foot.
  • Arch Supports or orthotics(custom foot supports) can craddle the foot and reduce strain on the metatarsals or ball of the foot..
  • Gently stretching each toe both up and down can really help – flex and extend each toe with your hand holding the stretch for 5 seconds and repeating 5 times.
  • Stretching your calf muscles will decrease the pressure on the front of your foot while walking and running. You need to stretch the inner and outer calf muscles for best results and perform these stretches at least twice per day. See bent knee calf stretches and straight knee calf stretches.
  • Strengthening and balance training are often the neglected part of treating metatarsalgia in runners. Strengthening the foot and calf muscles restores your bodies natural ability maintain your arch and reduces the strain on your foot during running. Balance training is the functional application of strength training.
  • Massage the deep muscles inbetween your toe bones (metatarsals). The end of a toothbrush can be used to work on those small muscles.
  • Bare foot walking in the grass for 1-3 minutes once per day well help gently stretch and work the deep muscles and tendons of your foot.
  • An anti-inflammatory could be used to reduce the pain and inflammation. Talk to your doctor about transdermal anti-inflammatories.
Categories
Foot injuries Recovery

Foot Stress Fractures — The Injured Runner

Stress Fractures are a condition where training load has exceeded the body’s ability to maintain bone structure, resulting in partial to complete breakdown of the bone. The most common sites for stress fractures in the foot are the heel and the second or third metatarsal (long bones of the foot. A firm squeeze of the heel or mid section of the metatarsal bone is usually distinctly painful. A stress fracture is typically painful with weight bearing, although in the early stages you may be able to run relatively pain-free after you are warmed up. As the condition progresses the pain intensifies and often leaves you with a limp. X-rays will usually confirm the diagnosis after three weeks of symptoms (although this varies).

Whole food provided in the form of milk products with high protein, calcium and vitamin D is the best known nutritional guidance to prevent stress fracture and may speed recovery. Vitamin D and Calcium intake has been shown to reduce the incidence of stress fractures in military cadets by 27% and should aid in quicker healing.

This condition requires proper rest. Plan on at least six weeks of not running. Swimming, deep water running and cycling (not for metatarsal stress fracture) are the best cross training options because of the decreased weight bearing. If you are limping when you walk, using crutches until the limp is gone will dramatically speed recovery.

  • Arch Supports, orthotics (custom foot supports) or a heel cup (for heel stress fractures) can help support the foot which may allow you to heal faster.
  • Performing stretching exercises twice per day will also speed your recovery. These are the most important stretches:straight knee calf stretches, bent knee calf stretches.
  • Vibration has been shown to accelerate bone healing. You can try using a vibrational massager by placing the massager on the bone an inch away from the sore spot and holding it for 2-4 minutes twice per day.

Considerations: Nutritional or hormonal factors may affect this condition. Consult a sports physician if this is a concern.

Categories
Foot injuries

Sciatica – The Injuredrunner

Sciatica has become a general term for pain in the back of the leg (thigh or calf) that originates in the spine. The source of your pain may be from a disc, nerve, or one of the joints in the lower lumbar spine. You may not even feel any pain in the back.

Symptoms are generally worse when you are sitting or standing still for a long time and often improves with walking. Pain varies from a dull ache to sharp, fiery pain and may change locations. You often feel like you can’t really touch the location of the pain. If there is numbness in your foot or leg it is even more likely that your symptoms stem from the back.

Most often, sciatica is the result of accumulated stress and strain to the back and hence, to recover you need to take a good look at how you treat your back. If you get leg pain after sitting for a long time, then limit sitting time and consider getting a better chair or support. If your leg pain is worse when you bend forward then limit the bend and instead squat or kneel to pick up your shoes. Did your symptoms get worse after lifting a fifty-pound bag of dog food? Then try better mechanics or get some assistance (or smaller bags).

When you are seeking help for back pain it can be confusing to know what will work best for you. This is partly due to the complexity of the back and our individual variations. There is some recent research that may help to direct your efforts. The program is based on the idea that there are basically four non-surgical types of treatment for lower back pain and sciatica. You simply choose the category that comes closest to matching your situation. You may find that you fit into more than one category or that over time your situation changes and you need to shift categories.

Specific Movement Category:

Certain movements can have a beneficial effect on your symptoms. If you find that lying on your stomach and propping up on your elbows decreases the pain in your leg or the pain moves more centrally towards your back then perform several repetition of this movement. If your pain decreases or moves more centrally towards the back when you lie on your back and pull your knees towards your chest, then perform several repetitions.

Stabilization Category:

Stabilization has become a buzzword in the exercise world. Basically, it is an approach to exercise that focuses on developing trunk strength to help support or “stabilize” the spine. If you have had three or more prior episodes, or are generally very flexible then trunk strengthening / conditioning (stabilization) should be more beneficial for you.

Treatment:

  • Abdominal strength / endurance. My grandma use to say “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”. When it comes to abdominal exercises there are so many approaches that choosing the right one for you is confusing. The approach I prefer is to teach people how to contract the transverse abdominus, which is the abdominal muscle that is reported to be most effective in providing stability to the spine, and then use this type of contraction while performing whatever abdominal exercise you prefer. So the best abdominal exercise is the one that is challenging, doesn’t hurt and you emphasize contracting the transverse abdominus. To help you learn how to contract the transverse abdominus try the following exercise. Position yourself on your hands and knees – keep your back in a relatively straight, relaxed posture. Next, let your abdomen relax and hang down somewhat. Now, take a deeper breath in through the nose, allowing your abdomen to further expand; as you slowly and gently breathe outward through the mouth purposefully draw your stomach inward. For some of you this will feel like just the opposite of what seems natural. Practice drawing the abdomen in while breathing outward and you will learn how to use the transverse abdominus and not substitute with other muscles. This is not a vigorous exercise, but you can use it to learn how to contract this specific muscle. You should feel some tightening around your lower ribs as well as the sides of your abdomen; you may even sense some tension in your lower back.
  • Lower back strengthen / endurance. There has only been one study, that I am aware of, that has shown that a particular exercise will increase the size / strength of your lower back muscles. These exercises were performed on an exercise ball with the position held for five seconds and repeated to fatigue (see Superman and Double Leg Lift). If the position was not held for five seconds there was no change in the size of the muscle, so make sure you hold at least five seconds. You can also perform this exercise on a roman chair, which is my preference if you are looking for a vigorous workout. For added benefit try performing a transverse abdominus contraction while doing these exercises.

To test your endurance you can perform the Sorenson test. Research has shown that the average time that a person without back pain can hold this position is two minutes and thirty seconds if you are a male and three minutes if you are a female. Most runners I test seem to be able to do about a minute longer than the average.

Traction Category:

Traction is a technique that may take pressure off your painful area. It is similar to pulling on your finger to relieve a sore knuckle. To see if this approach is beneficial for you, you will need a friend to assist. Lie on a firm surface and have your friend grasp your lower leg and raise it about thirty degrees directly upward then gently pull as if to lengthen the leg. If you notice a distinct relief of symptoms then this is the category for you.

Treatment:

  • Have a friend pull the leg as described above. Hold the pull for fifteen seconds and release for five seconds. Repeat this cycle ten times, once or twice per day.
  • A physical therapist or chiropractor can perform the traction for you. Some have tables or machines that do the work, or portable units that can be rented for home use. In my experience, manual traction is more relieving than the machine but difficult for the one pulling.
Categories
Foot injuries Recovery

Morton's Neuroma – The Injured Runner

Morton’s Neuroma is inflammation of the nerve that passes between the long bones (metarsals) of the foot. You will feel pain between the ends of the second and third or third and fourth metatarsal bones. The plantar nerve swells and becomes compressed between these bones. If you grasp the two metatarsal bones bordering the pain and squeeze them together you should feel your familiar symptoms. The pain is often sharp and may even feel electric. It is often worse when wearing shoes, especially narrow shoes, and better when walking barefoot.

  • A metatarsal pad is a small, slightly triangular, pad that can be placed slightly behind the painful area to provide relief. It may support an arch in this area and decrease pressure on the nerve.
  • Arch Supports or orthotics (custom foot supports) may be able to position the foot in a way that reduces strain on this region.
  • Stretching of both calf muscles at least twice per day may help decrease strain at the ball of the foot.
  • Strengthening and balance training.
  • An anti-inflammatory should be used to reduce the pain and inflammation.
  • A steroid injection can often provide a lot of relief if you don’t mind the needle.
  • If symptoms do not improve with these treatments then surgery can be performed to remove the neuroma.
Categories
Foot injuries stretches

Dorsiflexor Stretch – The Injured Runner

Stand with the leg to be stretched behind the other with the top of your toes against the floor. Gently press the front of the foot being stretched towards the floor. You can fine-tune this stretch by reaching the foot further back or twisting it to the side slightly. You should feel a stretch across the front of your foot and shin. Hold for ten seconds and repeat five times.

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Foot injuries

Treating Sesmoiditis — The Injured Runner

Sesmoiditis is inflammation of the sesmoid bones, which are very small bones at the base of the big toe. These bones are small and flat; most people cannot feel them when touching the area. They provide some protection to the joint and act as a fulcrum for the tendon that bends the toe. You will feel pain on the bottom of the knuckle of your big toe.

  • See Principles of Recovery
  • If you have an old pair of shoe inserts you can cut out the area directly under the painful spot (about the size of a dime). You can also try a donut-type relief pad (available at drug stores in the foot care area) to take pressure off of the irritated area.
  • Gently stretch your toes. Grasp each toe individually and stretch it one way and then the other. Hold the stretch for about 5 seconds and repeat 5 times for each toe, but double the number of stretches for your big toe.
  • If you have been having pain for more than 2-3 months then you may benefit from orthotics. Orthotics are custom made foot supports that in some cases can position the foot in a way that reduces strain on the sesmoid bones. For this condition it is probably best to see a podiatrist to discuss if orthotics will help you.
  • An anti-inflammatory cream could be used to reduce the pain and inflammation. Talk to your doctor about transdermal anti-inflammatories.
  • When none of the above treatments work you may want to consider a steroid injection to decrease the inflammation.
Categories
Foot injuries stretches

Plantar fascia self massage – The Injured Runner

With one hand grasp your toes and pull them back until you feel tightening along the bottom of your foot. Use the heel of your other hand to massage the band along the bottom of your foot attempting to bend this taught band. Use enough pressure to feel that it is distinctly being worked. Continue for two to five minutes. This is especially good before getting out of bed or at the end of the day.