First Things First, What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Sounds fancy and complicated but it really isn’t. I think plantar fasciitis is something we’ve all suffered from at some point in our lives.
According to Mayo Clinic, plantar fasciitis is inflammation of a thick tissue (AKA plantar fascia) that connects your toes to the heel bone. There’s several reasons why the plantar fascia may get inflamed, but when it happened to me it was because I was on my feet for pretty much the entire day. I also remember walking a good 12 km that day, so i’m sure that probably contributed to my heel pain!
Other causes of plantar fasciitis could be any of the following (source: My Health.Alberta.Ca):
If You Suffer From Foot Pain, What Next?
Before we even start talking about massage therapy for plantar fasciitis, it’s paramount for you to get a diagnosis.
If you don’t know where to find a Podiatrist in your area, go to your family physician instead. He/she may be able to recommend you to the right doctor. During your visit, be sure to clearly explain all the symptoms associated with your foot pain, and any activity you feel that might have lead to this.
Let your doctor do the assessment and provide you with the appropriate treatment options!
Massage Therapy For Plantar Fasciitis: Can Massage Really Help & How?
Let me start off by saying that I am not a medical professional, so the material presented in this section should be considered purely informative.
Alright, now that we’ve got that outta the way….
In my opinion, yes massage therapy can definitely help individuals suffering from plantar fasciitis, BUT……only if it is done properly. What exactly do I mean when I say it must be done “properly”? There’s tons of massage techniques out there, and only a handful are effective at treating plantar fasciitis. Most are actually ineffective, believe it or not!
So what are some of the massage techniques that do help relieve plantar fasciitis?
#1 Self Cross Fiber Massage Treatment
This first technique that involves cross fiber movements works really well, and it only takes a couple minutes to do. Best of all, it’s something you can do by yourself! (Credit: Bruce Mandelbaum). Watch the video below and try for yourself.
Did you give it a shot? Did you notice any relief from the aching pain in your heel? This is one technique that I certainly have benefited from!
#2 Cross Fiber Massage From Heel To Toes!
There’s a variation to the cross fiber method proposed in the video above. I found this one on the prevention site; It’s based on a recommendation from an actual Podiatric surgeon (Dr Sutera). The recommendation is as follows (all credit to prevention & Dr Sutera):
- The technique is most effective when performed after a hot shower/bath, as the tissues in the feet are already warm and will therefore be most easy to manipulate.
- Rub some moisturizer onto your hand. This will make the massage experience more comfortable.
- Massage lengthwise from the heel to toes imagining your foot is a chess board. Apply medium to firm pressure.
- Massage width-wise from the heel to the toes.
Each foot should be massaged for a total of 2 minutes. Remember to go slow, ensuring you take your time to really work the kinks in the fascia!
Note: After you finish the 4 steps, you should apply ice to the bottom of your feet for 15 minutes.
#3 Deep Tissue Therapy
Deep tissue massage is especially useful in treating muscular pain. Unlike medium/soft strokes, deep tissue intensity allows a therapist to “dig deep” into the various layers of fascia or muscle. With such an intensity, you’re able to reach the root of the problem much easier.
I’ve always been an advocate of doing things myself, and massage is no different. However, deep tissue massage is probably best left to the experts. Why? Well for 2 reasons:
Therapists are trained to understand how muscles behave and function. As such, they are able to gauge how deep an intensity/pressure is required to release tension and break scar tissue. It may sound a little over the top, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
I hope you take this advice seriously. Ultimately it’s your call to make!
What Are Some Of The Other Things I Can Do?
Thus far we’ve only looked at massage therapy for plantar fasciitis, but is there anything else that can be done to relieve pain? Here’s a few things!
A Word Of Caution!
Pain in the plantar fascia is unlike any other muscular pain. You have to realize that this particular muscle bears all your weight, so the pain intensity is multiplied several fold! Because plantar fasciitis is such a painful condition, most people will succumb to various forms of pain medication. I don’t have anything against pain meds when they’re used once a while, but continuous prolonged use can have serious side effects.
That’s a great question! Here’s a post from PainEDU that addresses this exact question. Worth a read!
That Being Said, Continue To Do What Works For You!
If you’ve found a treatment that gives you some relief from plantar fasciitis, continue to use that treatment! (provided there are no side effects). It makes no sense to deviate and try a whole bunch of other things! Remember, massage is just one of the many ways to treat plantar fasciitis. Find what works best for you and stick with it!
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