Does the thought of your feet hitting the floor in the morning have you cringing in pain?
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot is overused or overstretched. When stress placed on the plantar fascia ligament, it is stretched irregularly, and it can cause small tears and inflammation. This can be painful and make walking more difficult. The pain is often most severe when first stepping out of bed onto the floor in the morning.
The most common complaint is pain, burning and stiffness in the bottom of the heel. The heel pain may be dull or sharp. Another symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain when lifting the foot towards the shin (dorsiflexion).
Who gets it? Plantar fasciitis is most often seen in people who have suddenly gained weight or are obese, and persons whose jobs require a lot of walking or standing, especially on hard surfaces. Plantar fasciitis is also seen in athletes, especially long-distance runners, and those who often run downhill or on uneven surfaces.
It is seen in both men and women, however, it most often affects active men ages 40 – 70. It is one of the most common foot-related orthopedic complaints.
The pain is usually worse after standing or sitting for a while, when climbing stairs, and after intense activity. The pain may develop slowly over time, or suddenly after intense activity.
You are more likely to get plantar fasciitis if you have foot arch problems (both flat feet and high arches), tight Achilles tendon, and shoes with poor arch support or soft soles.
Turn those hurting heels into happy feet with acupuncture! Acupuncture has been used successfully for many musculoskeletal pain conditions, including heel pain. Acupuncture relieves pain and also stimulates circulation. And now, new research concludes that acupuncture is effective for treating plantar fasciitis.
In a controlled clinical investigation, an acupuncture group demonstrated a significant reduction in foot pain while the control group showed only minimal changes. The control group received five weeks of analgesic medications, stretching exercises and shoe modifications. The acupuncture group received the same therapies plus electro-acupuncture treatments. The researchers concluded that, “Electro-acupuncture coupled with conventional treatments provided a success rate of 80% in chronic plantar fasciitis which was more effective than conventional treatments alone.”
That’s great news indeed!
Stretching and exercises (as well as proper shoes, and shoe inserts) can also really make a difference, especially first thing in the morning, when the pain and stiffness can be at its worst.
Here’s a few stretches that can help!
Hold a wide belt with one end in each hand. Place the center of the belt over the ball of the foot. With your knee straight, pull your ankle back toward you using the belt and the muscle on the front of your leg. Think about reverse stretching your arch. Pull back and hold for ten seconds. Relax and repeat for five to ten minutes.
Use the wall! To stretch the fascia, prop your toes up against a wall, keeping your arch and heel flat so the toes stretch. Hold for a count of 10. Repeat 10 times three or four times per day.
Roll a frozen water bottle under the arch. Stretch first then roll out the arch for 10 minutes; you don’t want to stretch the tendon when it’s ice cold.
Freeze a golf ball and massage the fascia. Roll the frozen golf ball under the foot, starting from the front and working your way back. Put good pressure on each spot—the medial, center and lateral positions—for 15 seconds before moving to the next area. Then, roll the ball back and forth over the entire foot.
And try Acupuncture!
The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, An International Journal of Comparative Medicine East and West. Efficacy of Electro-Acupuncture in Chronic Plantar Fasciitis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Wipoo Kumnerddee and Nitsara Pattapong. Volume 40, Issue 06, 2012.
Photos: Google Images
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