You’re out running on your favorite trail, on a warm day with the sun shining, birds chirping, a light breeze, and the smell of summer in the air. 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.
You know that feeling when your foot falls asleep? It feels like static, tingling, or pins and needles. When this happens, the feeling usually lasts for a short period of time and goes away quickly. Tingling and numbness is a type of nerve pain that typically subsides with movement of the limb. In this case, the pain is usually due to restricted blood flow. The tingling can feel awkward and unpleasant but it is only temporary. However not all nerve pain is short lived; some tingling or numbness is constant and can be linked to a more serious medical condition.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. This condition impacts the plantar fascia, which is a thick band of fibrous connective tissue on the bottom of the foot that extends from the heel to the toes. Based on its location and makeup, the plantar fascia is ideally positioned to maintain and support the arch on the bottom of the foot. However, it is not designed to be the primary stabilizing structure.