Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain in many individuals. There is usually severe pain with the first few steps taken in the morning. It can resolve on its own, however, the faster you start treatment the quicker it can resolve. Generally, it will resolve within six to eighteen months (1). The good news is that 90% of individuals recover with non-surgical treatments. There are treatment options available to help heal faster!
Plantar fasciitis is a collagen degeneration of the plantar fascia. Repetitive microtears in the plantar fascia cause the degeneration. The plantar fascia runs along the bottom of your foot. This fascia provides support for the arch in your foot and shock absorption. Individuals with flat feet, fallen arches, and even high arches are at increased risk for developing plantar fasciitis. Since the feet are the base of the bodies support, plantar fasciitis can lead to an altered gait pattern and places the rest of the body in misalignment. This altered gait can affect the hips, pelvis, back, and neck. Other risk factors include tight/weak calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and intrinsic foot muscles.
In athletes, plantar fasciitis is generally caused by overuse. The constant, repetitive microtrauma exceeds the body’s ability to heal. It can also result in an increase in weight-bearing activities or structural insufficiencies as mentioned above.
There are treatment options available. Getting adjusted is very important. Chiropractors can evaluate your posture/gait and give corrective exercises to help rehab the weak areas. By getting adjustments you are correcting the biomechanical risk factors and decreasing the stress on the feet. Successful treatments must focus not only on pain relief, but must also address the underlying causes such as: muscular imbalances; biomechanical deficiencies; improper sporting techniques; and improper conditioning, to name a few.
Orthotics are also important. By supporting the arches in the foot orthotics will place the foot in an anatomically correct position, relaxing the stress on the plantar fascia and calf muscles. I personally wear and recommend Foot-levelers. This type of orthotic uses a 3D scanner and makes a custom orthotic based on your scan. They make a moveable orthotic that builds up the arch support where you need it. I wear mine every day and they are life changing!
K-laser therapy is a non-drug, non-invasive option for healing. A study in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery demonstrated promising results using laser therapy. Patients with chronic plantar fasciitis were split into two groups. One group was treated with low-level 635 nm lasers and the other patients received placebo treatments. Patients received treatments twice a week over a three-week period. At the final follow-up visit, the laser patients demonstrated a mean improvement in heel pain with a Visual Analog Scale score of 29.6 in comparison with a mean improvement of 5.4 in the placebo patients (2). In addition to being non-invasive, low-level laser therapy is a form of regenerative medicine as the modality’s mitochondrial stimulation initiates a low-grade inflammatory cascade of events that can stimulate revascularization of the thickened fascial tissue, according to study co-author Kerry Zang, DPM, FACFAS.
Supplements can also be added to help facilitate healing. Magnesium has a lot of beneficial use in the body including: the production of glutathione (an antioxidant); improving nerve function; relaxing tight muscles; and decreasing anxiety. Soaking in a warm Epsom salt bath is a great way to get magnesium to relieve pain and inflammation.
Proteolytic enzymes help decrease inflammation and swelling. Proteolytic enzymes actually reduce healing times by blocking metabolites that cause swelling. For many individuals reducing inflammation helps reduce the pain they feel from plantar fasciitis.
Colostrum comes from the breast of humans and other mammals after giving birth, before true milk appears. Colostrum contains proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, growth hormone, and specific proteins that can fight diseases such as bacteria and viruses. Athletes use bovine colostrum to improve athletic performance. Medically it is used to boost the immune system, heal injuries, repair nervous system damage, improve mood, slowing/reversing aging, kill bacteria, and fungus. The source of colostrum is important! The colostrum needs to come from organic cows on organic farms, eat natural grass, and never receive any antibiotics.
Stretching/Strengthening the muscles in your legs (calf and Achilles tendon) and intrinsic foot muscles are very important! Even with treatment, you can perform stretching/strengthening exercises at home to help with healing. After stretching, one thing I like to do is massage the plantar fascia with essential oils such as lavender or peppermint.