Walking, running, jogging, dancing, are all functional activities we do daily without thinking about it. They simply come second nature to us and are essential to a healthy life. What if your big toe, also known as the hallux, was amputated? Would you still be able to do what you love at all or even with ease?
Achilles pain or injury can prevent itself in the form of tendinopathy (i.e. tendinitis or tendinosis), or the more critical Achilles tendon tear or rupture. The Achilles tendon is the tendon to the gastroc and soleus, which together are known as the calf muscles. The role of a tendon is to transfer the force from the contracting muscle to the intended joint of movement. Together these muscles plantarflex the ankle joint, or point the foot downwards. This action creates the force needed to push the ground away and help propel the body forwards (or upwards) when we are walking, running, or jumping. The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the body, and the gastroc and soleus are the primary ankle plantar flexor muscles.
26 bones, 33 joints, and over one hundred small muscles and tendons; and that’s just one of them. The human foot is one of the more intricate and fascinating parts of the human body. Our feet act as the sole connection from our bodies to the earth below. We rely heavily on our feet to guide us through our day and allow us to participate in all the activities we enjoy.
The foot is almost always active. Every time we contact the ground, our feet need to respond to our environment. So why should we care about our feet if we’re not experiencing any pain or discomfort?
You’re out running on your favorite trail, and so far, everything about your run is perfect. But then, you feel an unusual burn in your heel. Or a discomforting pull of your hamstrings just behind your knee. You might even misstep and roll an ankle. Running, like any other sport, has its fair share of injuries associated with it.
In the modern world of reality television, exaggerated media headlines and fabricated statistics, deciphering truth from deception often seems to lead to even greater confusion. This is often true with medical conditions – where you are prone to read one thing on the internet, hear something different from your workout buddy and receive a third opinion from your neighbor whose aunt suffered from the same problem.
To provide clarity on some misconceptions about plantar fasciitis (and help you avoid a Google search on the condition, which may result in a headache), I am separating fact from fiction below:
The human body is an incredibly efficient machine that, over time, will adapt to loads and stresses by increasing the strength of its tissues. Walk around any weight room in America and you will see examples of tissue adaptation (think Arnold Schwarzenegger). Conversely, if there is a lack of stress or demand placed on muscle or bone, tissue wasting can occur. A perfect example may be right underneath you: your feet. Imagine someone that sits at a desk while wearing dress shoes for eight hours a day, year-after-year. One evening, he goes for a walk but limps the final steps to his house as his feet have become painful. Some will say this is due to bad arch supports, worn out shoes, or even bad feet. Or, could it be that the muscles in his feet are weak?
The plantar fascia is a thick band of fibrous connective tissue on the bottom of the foot that extends from the heel to the toes. While this location ideally positions the plantar fascia to fulfill its role as a stabilizing structure, it ultimately predisposes the area to repetitive use and the potential for inflammation and chronic tissue changes.
One of the most common treatment methods to alleviate muscular pain and post-work out soreness is the foam roller and there is a good reason for that. Foam rollers are a great treatment option to mobilize tight tissue especially for larger areas on your body that you want to address. But what if you want to really zone in on a particularly small area of tight muscle? What if the muscle you want to address isn’t easily mobilized with a foam roller? What if you don’t have a foam roller with you? Enter the massage ball.