Healing Plantar Fasciitis

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Arch and Midfoot Pain can be cause persistent pain; Learn how to heal

By Julie Donnelly, LMT

You love to run, in fact, you run almost every day of the year, even when it’s cold or miserable outside. You also love races – marathons, endurance, and any other race that will challenge you to expand, Then your foot starts to hurt. You feel it coming on gradually. Maybe your lower leg aches a bit, but you’re busy so you ignore it. After a while every time you take a step you feel a burning that spreads along the entire lower leg and into your arch. Still you ignore it. But it doesn’t go away, in fact, it gets worse. Friends have told you about their foot pain and how it negatively impacted their running, so you decide to just run through the pain.

Then your arch just doesn’t feel “right.” Then it starts to hurt, but not every time you put pressure on your foot. Again, you ignore it until finally your foot is hurting all the time.   Then eventually you can’t ignore it any more, it’s like a knife being jabbed into your arch. Now it’s not just hurting when you run or drive your car, your foot hurts with every step.


What’s Happening?


Almost every day you do something that causes you to lift the front of your foot while your heel is still resting on the floor. For most people it comes from straining your lower leg muscles when you are driving a car, especially if you drive often. It is even more evident if you are doing any type of city driving because you are off and on the gas and break constantly, repetitively straining all of your lower leg muscles. You just know that your foot hurts and it’s affecting your life, and your ability to run. You must find a solution!


Plantar Fasciitis


You’ve been told you have plantar fasciitis, and you may have been told you need expensive orthotics. Perhaps you’ve even tried them and while they worked for a short time, eventually the pain returned and then it started to hurt worse. Now you’re told you need to replace the orthotics, but you’ve come to realize that isn’t the answer. And it’s not the answer. The orthotics are focusing on the symptom, but totally ignoring the source of the problem.

Most people, including too many medical professionals, don’t pay attention to the fact that foot pain is frequently coming from outside the foot. The muscles of your lower leg move your ankle and foot, and they are the source of most foot pain. 

The reason is simple. First let’s use an analogy that I use all the time because it’s so perfect to explain how muscles work to move a joint. If you pull your hair at the end, it hurts at your scalp. You don’t need to massage your scalp, you don’t need to take pain medications to stop the tension in your head, and you certainly don’t need brain surgery, you just need to stop pulling your hair! Now substitute the muscle for your hand, the tendon for your hair, and the joint for your scalp.

Muscles originate in one place, they merge into a tendon that crosses over a joint, and then the tendon inserts into a point on the other side of the joint. When the muscle pulls, the tendon tightens and the joint moves, but if the muscle is tight it will continue pulling on the joint even when you don’t want it to move. In the case of the lower leg muscles and the foot, the muscles are pulling your foot up from the ground, but you are pressing it down and causing the tendons to put a strain on the insertion points, which in this case are all in your arch.


How the Muscles Get Strained


Every time you take a step you are using all of the muscles of your lower leg. Eventually the muscles are shortened by the repetitive movement. This is even more pronounced in runners, or people who walk or drive a lot.

When you put your leg out to take a step your ankle is bent so you can land on your heel. Lifting up the front of your foot is the job of several muscles: tibialis anterior, extensor digitorum longus and extensor hallucis longus. These last two are not involved with plantar fasciitis, so we won’t talk about them here. The thick body of these three muscles is just below your knee joint, right alongside your shin bone. The tibialis anterior inserts into the long bone of your arch and is one of the key muscles that cause plantar fasciitis. If you put your fingers on them and then pull the front of your foot up off the floor, you’ll feel them contract.

Then putting the front of your foot down onto the ground is accomplished by muscles in your posterior and lateral calf. The primary muscles are gastrocnemius and soleus, which both originate on the back of your lower leg and insert into your Achilles tendon, and then your heel bone.

Another muscle group that assists in pushing your foot down is the peroneals. Your two peroneals (brevis & longus) originate on the outside of your leg and insert into both the inside and outside of your arch. The peroneals not only enable you to press your foot down, they roll your foot in toward your arch. As a result, they are another key muscle group that causes plantar fasciitis.

Repetitive contractions cause a phenomenon called muscle memory that will hold your muscles in the shortened position even when you don’t need them contracted. This puts pressure on each of the insertion points, in this case, your arch.

The insertion points of each of the key muscles (tibialis anterior, peroneals, gastrocnemius and soleus) is the reason these four muscles are the primary cause of plantar fasciitis.


Why Lower Leg Muscles Cause Arch Pain


The tibialis anterior goes along the outside of your shin bone, crosses over the front of your ankle and then inserts into your arch. When it contracts normally you lift up the inside of your foot so you are resting on the outside of your foot.

The peroneals originate at the top/outside of your lower leg, run down the leg and merge into a tendon that goes behind the outside of your ankle and inserts in two places; the outside of your foot, and under your arch to the inside of your foot. When it contracts normally you pull up the outside of your foot so you are resting on your big toe.

Compound this with your calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus), pulling your heel up in the back and you’re in big trouble. The two calf muscles are responsible for you lifting your heel off the floor so you can stand on your toes. You use your calf muscles to push off as you complete every step. But your arch muscles originate on your heel bone. when your calf muscles are putting pressure on your heel, your arch muscles are being pulled backward.

Your arch is being pulled in three directions, and you have pain in your arch, but it’s being caused by the muscles of your lower leg.

Consider again the analogy of pulling your hair. If you pull it hard, your scalp hurts. If you pull your hair on both sides and the back of your head, you’re really in pain and you aren’t turning your head in either direction. It’s the same with these muscles, when they are pulling hard in opposite directions your arch will hurt.

While you are running, pay attention to how you are landing on the foot. Do you shoes wear out primarily on the outside of your foot? (Check the bottoms for tread wear.) If so, your tibialis anterior is tight. Or if your shoes wear out on the inside edge, your peroneals are tight. And in both cases the odds are you are straining both of the muscles of your calf.


An Easy Treatment that Works


The goal with this Julstro Method self-treatment is to force the toxins out of the muscle fibers, drawing in blood to nourish the muscles. As the blood fills the muscle, the fibers lengthen and the strain is removed from the arch.

Begin by treating the tibialis anterior on the front of your leg.

Kneel on the floor and put a ball just outside of your shin bone.

Move your leg so the ball rolls down the outside of your shin toward your ankle.

If you start to feel like your arch is cramping, just curl your toes as shown in this picture.

Then treat the peroneals on the outside of your lower leg. Sit on the floor with the leg you are treating bent and resting on the floor.

Put the ball on the outside of your leg (so it is actually on the floor and your leg is on top of it) and then press the outside of your leg into the ball.

Move your leg so the ball starts to roll down the outside of your lower leg.

Finally, there are many ways to self-treat your calf muscle. You can do the treatment either lying down, as shown, or sitting in a chair.

Put the center of your calf directly onto your opposite knee, and press down. Then slowly pull your top leg so your knee is sliding deeply down toward your ankle.

The treatments will feel sore but that’s because you’re forcing toxins out of the muscles. The toxins are an acid, so it burns. But, it’s better to have the acid out of the muscles and fill the fibers with blood to heal the muscle fibers. Drink a lot of water so your blood stream can pick up the toxins and eliminate them from your body.

There are several other treatments that work to eliminate arch pain and plantar fasciitis, but I’ve found these to be the most productive, and they may be all that is necessary to eliminate the problem completely.




© 2018 Julie Donnelly

Julie Donnelly is an internationally respected expert in repetitive strain injuries. She is the author of seven books on the topic, including her original book, The Pain-Free Triathlete, and her newest book: The Pain-Free Athlete. Julie teaches Julstro self-treatment workshops around the USA. For a private Zoom.us consultation contact Julie through her websites: www.julstro.com and www.FlexibleAthlete.com

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date: April 1, 2018

Team BT