Flexibility

What You Need to Know: Plantar Fasciitis

Today’s blog post is courtesy of a special guest writer and expert on the topic of Plantar Fasciitis: Rachel Zimmerman DPT.

If you’ve ever experienced pain in the bottom of your foot, or in your heel, chances are it’s Plantar Fasciitis.

There is a common misconception that this is something you have to live with, but you don’t! The following advice will help alleviate your pain and get you back on your feet.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

To understand what this condition is, we need to break it down into parts: plantar fascia and -itis. The plantar fascia is a structure in the bottom of the foot. It is a thin, white tissue similar to a ligament that sits between the skin and the muscle and extends from the heel to the toes. It provides stability to the foot. The suffix “-itis” is a Greek term meaning inflammation. So plantar fasciitis is inflammation of this tissue in the bottom of the foot.

What are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis typically presents as pain in the heel, usually on the inside part of the foot. The pain can also spread along the arch and along the bottom of the foot. The pain is usually worst during the first few steps after getting out of bed in the morning but can also occur after standing or walking for long periods of time.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis has multiple causes, but one of the most common is increasing your activity level too quickly! Also, having tight calf muscles, weak foot muscles, and/or wearing improper footwear.

What do I do if I believe I have plantar fasciitis?

Avoid aggravating activities: The most important thing you can do when you have an inflammatory condition is to avoid activities that increase your pain. Figure out which activities are aggravating it and modify them as you can. This does not mean to avoid activity altogether – just find activities you can do that don’t increase your pain level. This does not have to be long term, just while you are experiencing pain.

Stretch your calves: Tight calf muscles (the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles) can contribute to inflammation in the plantar fascia. Stretch your calves by sitting with your feet out in front of you with your knees straight, and place a towel around the ball of your foot. Pull back on the towel towards you until you feel a stretch in the calf. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat a few times. You should feel a stretch, but not pain.

Strengthen your foot muscles: There are specific muscles in your foot that help to support your arch and take stress off the plantar fascia.

   • Great toe extension: Lift big toe, leaving other 4 on the ground. Repeat for 3 sets of 10.

   • Small toe extension: Lift 4 smaller toes, leaving big toe down. Repeat for 3 sets of 10.

   • Doming: Raise the arch of your foot, keeping toes down. Repeat for 3 sets of 10.

Change your footwear: Avoid shoes that are flat as these do not support your arch and can contribute to stress on the plantar fascia. Look for shoes that have a buildup on the inside of the shoe where your arch would be. Most shoe stores will be able to help find footwear that is appropriate for your feet, whether you need a stability shoe (which has more arch support than normal) or a neutral shoe (which has arch support but not as much as a stability shoe).

Ice: You can freeze a plastic water bottle, and then roll your bare foot over the frozen water bottle. It provides massage and ice, which will decrease the inflammation and will numb the pain temporarily. Do this for a few minutes at a time at most.

Consider orthotics: There are orthotics, or inserts for your shoe, that provide more stability for your arch. You can try basic orthotics from a drugstore or consider custom orthotics. A physical therapist, podiatrist, or orthotist can help you with custom orthotics.

**If your pain does not get better, consult a physical therapist! There are many other factors that contribute to plantar fasciitis that your physical therapist may be able to assess and treat.

This blog was specially written by our friend and guest writer Rachel Zimmerman, DPT.

Rachel is clinic director at ATI Physical Therapy right here in Green Bay, WI. You can find out more about her clinic or find a location near you at ATIpt.com!

Ditch the Desk for the Health of it!

Desk jobs can make it super difficult to feel active enough each day and still accomplish what you are supposed to at work. It not only affects our mobility and sanity, but has also been shown to increase our waistlines and risk of heart disease!

A recent study found that for each hour over 5 hours of sitting resulted in a waist size increase of 2 cm (that’s almost an inch per hour!) and .2% increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

This week we have strategies for staying more active at your desk job!
*All seriousness aside, look at that computer monitor! What year is it??

Move

“Sedentary” is considered under 5000 steps per day. The average American gets only 4800-5300/day! Of course, any movement is better than none, so let’s start there!
Park further away from the front door, use the further away bathroom, take the stairs! Waiting for a printer, your computer to reboot, or for software updates? Stand up and do some calf raises, a few squats – anything to move during your down time! Have a walking meeting, all the big execs are doing it…

Wear comfortable shoes each day so you don’t dread walking more often, and get creative! Who cares if they stare?

Eating/Drinking

Do your best to avoid eating at your desk! It’s easy to consume more food when you are focusing on anything other than your food, chewing, and how you feel. Eating and multi-tasking almost guarantees you will eat everything in front of you regardless of whether or not you are still hungry. Walk to the breakroom and be present!

Also, stay hydrated. Many times we are thirsty but mistake it for hunger. Like ice water? Lemon? Find the way that makes it as desirable as possible!

Switch the Style Up!

Consider a standing desk, stability ball in place of a chair, or even kneeling on a pad occasionally! If you work from home you can even move your desk to the floor allowing you tons of variations! (Check out this video)

Studies recommend 5 minutes of standing for every 30-minutes sitting. At the top of each hour commit to 10 squats, 10 lateral squats, 5 push ups, etc. Perform seated leg raises right at your desk. Set an alarm/reminder to do so. Also we were just kidding earlier, no one is staring…

Stretch

Typing, texting, etc can cause internal rotation of the shoulders (rounding forward) which can cause shoulder impingement and tightness. Google search “desk stretches” and you’ll find a boatload (like this).

Leave a tennis ball under your desk to roll your feet on. Consider keeping a resistance tube or mini-band at work and utilize the exercises you have learned when you know you can’t make it to the gym!

Put it all together!

Here’s more things you can do to help prevent or reverse “Desk Job Body”:

• Find out if your company has a wellness program.
• Get a fitness tracker and get an idea of how many steps you take each day.
• Strive to drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water each day.
• Move at work.
• Stretch at your desk.
• Quite reading this post and move, move, move!

Five Stretches You Shouldn’t Live Without!

…and sometimes – it is that simple!

Flexibility and “warming up” are two of the most highly underrated fitness principles around. Sure, many people warm up before an intense workout, but what about the rest of your day? As soon as you wake up – what has your body been doing for the last several hours? Lying still.

As soon as you step foot out of bed you begin placing demands on your body to lift, bend, and hustle around to keep up with your day. Start your day with a bit of injury prevention and increased blood flow, and you might be amazed at how it makes you feel.

Start from the ground up!

Plantar Fasciitis and other foot issues can make stepping out of bed painful or challenging due to the foot being in a pointed position through much of the night. Try flexing the foot up towards you and holding for 20 seconds 3-5x/foot. This can be done by sitting on floor and using a towel to pull the upper foot toward you. Or sit on your heels with shins and feet flexed under you. Sit back on your heels for the same amount of time. If you have a step nearby, you can also let your heels hang off of it like you would a calf stretch. All these movements bring your toes closer to your shin in a flexed position, stretching the foot fascia, and helping you get ready for the day!

The World’s Greatest Stretch??

We didn’t name it, but with a name like that it has some serious expectations to live up to, and it does a decent job! This awakens all the major muscle of the body. Hold each position for a few seconds and perform 3 movement patterns per side. This stretch is great to utilize throughout the day since it also stretches out the main muscles affected by sitting for long periods of time!

Watch the video to see what the buzz is about!

Wake up your spine!

The Cat/Cow Stretch can help relieve tension in your spine, morning or night, by opening it up and decompressing vertebrae. Set up in a quadruped position (all-fours: wrists under shoulders, knees under hips) and inhale while gently moving the chest/belly toward the floor so the spine is in extension. Exhale as you press into your hands, tuck the tailbone under, pull the chin toward the chest and round the back upward allowing the shoulder blades to move apart. Perform 10 reps or as many as you have time for.

You’ve got a litte tension in the those shoulders…

Wake up the spine and shoulders in the morning by simply standing and standing tall & reaching the arms overhead as if trying to reach the ceiling. Then work into a reverse shoulder stretch – clasping the arms behind you and lifting hands gently toward the ceiling near your edge and hold for 20 seconds.

Get off my back already!

Several statistical analyses have put the number of Americans suffering from chronic back pain above 10%. Our spine is the root of basically all movement, so we are driving home the importance of maintaining mobility and joint health in your back!

The Cobra stretch awakens the body with full extension of the spine, neck, shoulders, and chest. Lay on the floor, belly down. Place your hands under your shoulders, press into the floor, and lift the chest. Keep the abdominal muscles turned on, and draw the inner thighs towards each other to avoid hinging at the low back.

Watch the video for a demonstration!