Put Your Best Foot Forward!

Dr. Danesh D. Chinoy is a leading Health and Wellness Coach, Sports Physiotherapist and Psychologist. He is dedicated to helping all to heal holistically and remain fighting fit for life. Providing eye-opening and ground-breaking insights into Wellness, Dr. Chinoy’s two-decades’ rich expertise has won him innumerable awards, nationally and globally. His mission is to empower you to reach your highest levels of wellness/fitness. You can connect with Dr. Chinoy at: daneshchinoy@gmail.com.

You get out of bed in the morning and as you take your first steps, you feel a burning, stabbing pain on the bottom / soles of your foot. You’re wondering, “What can I do about my foot pain?”

With a number of readers who are suffering similar issues, requesting my help, let us demystify the condition known as ‘Plantar Fasciitis’. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of your foot by stretching slightly when you step down and then shortens back to maintain the arch and support your weight, as you walk. The plantar fascia absorbs a great deal of weight when walking and especially when running and is therefore prone to injury.

Plantar Fasciitis a condition that causes pain on the bottom of the foot, especially in the area of the heel and arch. For those who like the technicalities, Plantar Fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia generally caused by micro tears or repetitive injury of the plantar fascia. The tissue becomes tightened and shortened causing pain and distress. It gets aggravated (many a times even caused) with the wrong choice of footwear. Sadly, people seek glamour and fashion over comfort and proper mechanics when choosing their footwear.

Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel. The pain is usually the worst with the first few steps after waking up, although it can also be triggered by long periods of standing or when you get up after sitting. The pain is usually worse after activity, not during it. Flat feet, a high arch or even an abnormal pattern of walking can affect the way weight is distributed when you’re standing and can put added stress on the plantar fascia.

Changing the way you walk as a way to relieve plantar fasciitis pain might lead to foot, knee, hip or back problems. A thorough kinetic analysis helps correct the bio-mechanical faults of posture and weight distribution, particularly if you are on the wrong side of the weighing scale. All this is be evaluated by a competent physiotherapist. Sometimes, an X-ray shows a piece of bone sticking out (spur) from the heel bone. In the past, these bone spurs were often blamed for heel pain and removed surgically. But many people who have bone spurs on their heels have no heel pain. Injecting steroid medication into the tender area can provide temporary pain relief. Multiple such shots aren’t recommended because they can weaken your plantar fascia and possibly cause it to rupture in the long run.

If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, one of the best self-help ways to get relief is by stretching and strengthening the tissue giving you trouble. Loosening the plantar fascia can prevent it from further damage, strengthening the supporting muscles would reduce the stress and thus help contain inflammation. Soak your feet in soothing hot water mixed with Epsom salt. The water should be hot, but not uncomfortable, and feet can be soaked twice a day for about fifteen minutes. Night splint is another option that can help stretch your calf and the arch of your foot. Night splints are a type of brace that holds your foot in a flexed position and lengthens the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon overnight. This can prevent morning pain and stiffness. Getting professional advice and custom-made footwear, particularly quality insoles will go a long way in healing and preventing many other foot related issues.

Here’s some exercises you can do at home to help heal your plantar fasciitis:

Tennis Ball Roll: While seated, grab a tennis ball or rolling pin or a frozen water bottle, or any other cylindrical object and put it under your foot. Gently roll the object underneath the arch of your foot. Acupressure roller boards will also do. Perform this exercise for three to five minutes, twice or thrice in a day.

Towel Stretch: Take a towel or a ‘dupatta’ and put it around your foot. While sitting, extend your leg in front of you. Gently pull the towel toward you while keeping your leg stable. You should feel your calf muscle stretching. Hold this position for about 45 seconds, take a break and repeat it twice. Do this exercise four to six times daily.

Toe Stretch: In a seated position, push your leg out so that just your heel is on the floor. Bend down and grab your big toe, bending it backward. While doing this, flex your ankle up so that it pulls away from the floor. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, take a break and repeat it two to four more times. You can do this exercise numerous times a day.

Toe Curls: In a seated position, put a towel flat under your foot. Your goal is to scrunch the towel up using only your toes. Once you have scrunched the towel, curl your toes the other way to straighten it back out. Perform this exercise 10 times, once or twice a day.

Calf Stretch: Stand facing a wall with one foot in front of the other (the back foot should be the one with plantar fasciitis). Keeping the back leg straight, lean your weight forward, bending into the front knee. Make sure your back heel stays on the ground, stretching your calf muscle. Hold this position for about 45 seconds, take a break and repeat two to three times. Do this exercise four to six times a day.

Picking Up Marbles: For something a little more challenging, try putting marbles on the ground next to a coffee mug. Using only your toes, grab the marbles, lift them off the ground, and drop them into the mug. Continue until you have gathered all the marbles. Do this exercise once or twice daily.

If there is no significant relief in your pain, I strongly recommend you visit your neighbourhood physiotherapy clinic for a professional ‘Fascia Release’ and also a tailor-made exercise prescription for your specific needs based on a physical diagnosis and evaluation.

Put your best foot forward and have a pain-free life!


Leave a Reply