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Plantar fasciitis stinks!  Those first few steps in the morning can be excruciating.  The stabbing pain in your heel and throughout the bottom of your feet can make you feel as though you are walking on broken glass. 

If you have ever suffered from plantar fasciitis, you know the familiar dread of having to stand up after a good night’s sleep or after sitting for a long period of time. 

But just when you think you can’t take it any more….it disappears.  After a few minutes, the pain subsides or lessens and you are able to continue your day without giving much thought to what is happening with your feet. 

That is, until after you have been sitting down to watch a movie, eat dinner or just relax.  Once your feet hit the floor and you stand up again, the pain ensures that you were not just imagining it.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is a strong ligament found on the sole of the foot.  More specifically, it starts at the ball of your foot and ends at your heel.  This ligament is responsible for maintaining the arch of the foot.  Without the plantar fascia ligament, it would be very difficult to walk. 

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia is over-stressed.  This triggers inflammation and pain.

Plantar Fascia’s Best Friend

Walking is one of the most biomechanically complex activities your body does.  When walking, the foot is not the only part that is moving.  The calf muscles, or soleus and gastrocnemius muscles, are working hard too.  The calf muscles and plantar fascia along with dozens of other muscles make walking possible.

Sometimes the calf muscles may become inflexible which can lead to slight changes in the position of your foot.   This slight variation can also trigger inflammation in or near the plantar fascia. 

The calf muscles can play a big role in not on creating plantar fasciitis, but also in treating it.

How to Reduce the Pain

Since the most intense pain is usually felt in the morning, it is important to have a good morning routine before getting out of bed.

1. Stretch.

By flexing your feet and extending your toes you will be stretching your calf muscles and the muscles of the feet.  Stretching encourages the muscles to wake up before your feet hit the floor.

2. Move.

Moving your ankles in circles, up and down and in and out will help to increase the blood flow to the muscles surrounding the plantar fascia making it easier for them to move.

3.  Massage.

If you have a few minutes, there is nothing like a good self massage for your sore feet.  Massage sends soothing messages to your brain and can help to control pain levels.

4.  Shoes.

Have a pair of shoes beside your bed to slip on before you stand up.  Shoes can provide cushion to the heel and protect the entire sole.

Shoes are also an important part of prevention and treatment of plantar fasciitis.  Make sure your shoes are supportive and do not cause pain.  Heels, both high and low, will likely increase pain as they place to foot in an awkward unnatural position.

Avoiding future episodes

Chances are if you have experienced plantar fasciitis, you will experience it again in the future. Learning how to take care of your feet to prevent future episodes of plantar fasciitis is critical. 

By working with a physical therapist you can learn how to stretch and strengthen the fascia and muscles in your feet and legs properly.  A physical therapist can also help you to identify symptoms early and treat them right away so you can avoid that pain when you first get out of bed. 

Wouldn’t that be a better start to your day?