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Every step you take — whether it’s a casual stroll or a brisk jog — places demand on your feet. Over time, this constant wear and tear can lead to foot pain that affects your daily life and can even cause a common foot condition called plantar fasciitis. This condition is characterized by sharp heel pain and nagging discomfort that can turn even simple activities into a challenge.

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation and irritation of the plantar fascia, which is a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot and connects the balls of your feet and toes to your heel. The plantar fascia plays an important role in foot function by protecting your foot’s muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves each time you take a step. The plantar fascia is also crucial in supporting the arch of your foot.

If you spend a lot of time on your feet, have high physical activity levels, or wear footwear that doesn’t properly support your foot arch, you may be at a higher risk of developing plantar fasciitis. Anything that puts excessive pressure on the bottom of your foot increases the risk of developing this condition.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, more than 2 million people are treated for planter fasciitis annually. You may also hear it referred to as “runner’s heel,” although it certainly can affect runners and nonrunners alike.

Common Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis can cause significant discomfort that can impact, and may limit, your movement in everyday life. Recognizing the symptoms of this condition can help with timely diagnosis and effective management. Some common signs and sensations associated with plantar fasciitis include:

  • Heel pain: One of the most common symptoms of plantar fasciitis is a sharp, stabbing pain in the heel, typically near the front or center. This pain is often worse in the morning, especially during the first few steps after getting out of bed. You might also feel it after prolonged periods of rest or prolonged time on your feet.
  • Foot arch pain: Pain can also radiate along your foot’s arch, making it uncomfortable to walk or stand for extended periods.
  • Stiffness: Your foot may also feel stiff, making it difficult to move or flex your toes.

Learn more: “What Your Feet Are Trying to Tell You

How Can a Chiropractor Help with Plantar Fasciitis?

With their holistic approach and knowledge of the body, chiropractors are equipped to help address plantar fasciitis and foot pain, promote optimal foot health, and help you reclaim mobility and overall quality of life in the following ways.

Spinal Adjustments

A typical session with a chiropractor for plantar fasciitis concerns begins with a standard spinal adjustment. The spine, especially the lumbar region, plays a pivotal role in transmitting nerve signals to the soft, connective tissue in your feet. When you address the spine first, it helps ensure the delivery of accurate signals to the rest of your body including your feet. For example, spinal alignment can improve balance, coordination, and proprioception, all of which affect how your feet and ankles function.

Foot Adjustments or Soft Tissue Manipulation

Apart from spinal adjustments, a chiropractor may perform other chiropractic methods, such as a join adjustment or soft tissue manipulation (massage) for plantar fasciitis on an individual’s leg, ankle, or foot. First, a chiropractor will examine to see if a joint in your feet or ankles seem to be causing the pain and if so, an adjustment may be necessary.

If foot pain is occurring, yet all joints are mobile and restriction free, then the problem could be coming from elsewhere, such as a knee or calf issue. Most lower extremity problems require soft tissue mobilization, but not always joint manipulations. A chiropractor will try to find the root of the issue before deciding on treatment.

Exercises and Stretches for Your Feet

A chiropractor can recommend exercises that stretch the ligaments in your feet and surrounding areas. For example, a practitioner may recommend this common sequence for plantar fasciitis:

  • Roll the bottom of each foot on a lacrosse ball for three to four minutes
  • Perform two to three sets of a static 30-second calf stretch on each leg
  • Perform three sets of 10 single-leg calf raises on each leg
  • Perform three sets of 15 toe raises

This sequence helps address, mobilize, and strengthen soft tissues of the lower leg, ankle, and foot. It also importantly works to strengthen the plantar fascia, which helps it respond better to stress over time. As you continue to practice, your body can adapt and heal without overwhelming your condition or causing more pain.

Muscle-Tension Release

Because the calf muscles are continuations of the small intrinsic muscle on the bottom of each foot, muscle tension and tightness in the calf and foot muscles can lead to pain and plantar fasciitis. A chiropractor can employ soft-tissue therapies, including massage and myofascial releases, to the tibialis muscles, calf muscles, hamstrings, quads, and hips to result in better flexibility and reduced strain on the plantar fascia.

Foot pain can cause impacts to the entire body if not addressed appropriately. For example, those with plantar fasciitis often adjust their gait in an attempt to reduce or avoid the pain. However, this can place stress on other body parts, leading to back pain, sore joints, or strained muscles. Also, trying to accept the pain as a new normal or altering your activity types and levels due to the pain is far from an ideal path for quality of daily life. It’s important to take steps with at-home care and seek professional help as needed.

If you want to learn more about some at-home treatment options, you can do so here: “Treating Planter Fasciitis.” If you’re interested in working with a LifeClinic chiropractor, you can learn more and request an appointment here.

Dr. Reza
Dr. Reza Alizadeh

Dr. Reza Alizadeh is the visionary behind LifeClinic. His leadership is the foundation for the patient and team member experience. As the creator of IMJT (Integrated Muscle and Joint Therapy), Dr. Reza continues to be the primary teacher on this technique.

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