Plantar Fasciitis – How to Stop Pain in Your Arch

by Julie Donnelly – The Pain Relief Expert
I found out today that a dear friend has plantar fasciitis and she never came to see me about it….go figure! I guess she didn’t know that I could help her since her medical professional told her it’s a foot problem and I work with muscles. In any case, this is something that is really easy and quick to fix, so I decided I wanted to post it on the Pain-Free Living blog and then send her the link.

This post is a bit involved because I’m talking about three leg muscles and how they impact your foot, but to help I’ve looked up graphics of each of the muscles. It will help if you look at them and then even find them on your own leg. If you have my book, Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living you will have this information in much greater detail, but here’s the basics that will help you right away.

First let’s deal with the idea that this is a problem of the arch. The analogy I always use in my office is, when you pull your hair at the end it hurts at your scalp, but you don’t need to massage your scalp, you don’t need to take aspirin for the pain, and you certainly don’t need brain surgery – you just need to let go of your hair. And if you pulled your hair on BOTH sides of your head, not only would you not be able to turn in any direction, but you’d have a whopper of a headache – and still the solution to the problem is to let go of your hair!

Where the arch of the foot is concerned the muscles insert into your arch on both sides of your foot and pull on it in opposite directions, so it makes sense that your arch would hurt. To begin, as the graphic of the tibialis anterior muscle shows, the muscle originates along the outside of your shin bone and the tendon (looks like a thin rope) inserts into the first metatarsal bone at your arch. When the muscle contracts (shortens) it pulls on the tendon and you lift your big toe and ball of your foot off the floor. Consider what happens when the muscle contracts and you don’t lift up the ball of your foot – it puts a big strain on the first metatarsal.

Next, the peroneals muscles (there are two of them) run along the length of the outside of your lower leg and the tendons insert into the outside bone of your foot (the fifth metatarsal) AND also on the first metatarsal (at the same spot as the insertion of the tibialis anterior). When the peroneals contract you roll your foot in toward your big toe and arch, lifting your pinky toe off the floor.

Now consider what happens when the peroneals shorten and you don’t pick up the outside of your foot – it pulls hard on the both metatarsal bones. So you are having tension placed on the bones of your arch, both pulling in opposite directions! Does it wonder that your arch is hurting?

Finally, the muscles of your calf, the gastrocnemius and soleus, both merge into your Achilles tendon, which then attaches to the heel of your foot. When these muscles contract you pick up your heel and stand on your toes. Again, think of what happens when the muscles are shortened by spasms and you keep your heel on the floor – tension is put onto your heel. Where this is involved in plantar fasciitis is that your arch muscles attach to the front side of your heel bone, so if it is being pulled backward than the muscles are being stretched in that direction too.

In other words, your arch muscles are being pulled in three directions all at the same time – to the inside, to the outside, and backward. Ouch!

How to Do the Julstro Self-Treatments for the Lower Leg

Here are three of the Julstro self-treatments from Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living:

Begin by treating your tibialis anterior muscle. You can use a new tennis ball or the Perfect Ball and kneel on it, and then move your leg so the ball rolls to the point where it’s shown in the picture. You’ll get more pressure if you bring your butt down toward your foot, and less pressure if you kneel up straight. Also, if your arch feels like it’s going to cramp (it isn’t, but it feels like it) then curl your toes as shown in the picture.

Next, treat your peroneals as shown in the picture. Move your leg so the ball will roll, but the odds are good that you’ll find the spasm at exactly the point that is shown in this picture:

And finally, there are so many ways to treat your calf muscles that I picked the one that is the easiest to explain, and that you can do in bed before you get up in the morning.

And finally, there are so many ways to treat your calf muscles that I picked the one that is the easiest to explain, and that you can do in bed before you get up in the morning.

Use your opposite knee to press into your calf and then press your calf down onto your knee until you feel the tension releasing.

So, that’s it! As I said, it’s easy to treat the muscles that cause plantar fasciitis.

BTW, I’m not a doctor so take this with a grain of salt, but I’ve found that orthotics make the pain come back. The orthotics bring the floor up to the uplifted foot; but since you’ve released the muscles so your foot can go down to the floor, putting the orthotics back into your shoes again will lift your foot off the floor and cause the muscles to shorten again.

Too long a story to go into here, but I’ve had many clients tell me that when they put the orthotics back into their shoes after being pain-free from doing the treatments, the pain returned. Try it yourself. Do the self-treatments thoroughly, walk around for a day or so, and then put the orthotics back into your shoes. You’ll know whether you need them or not.

I’d love some comments from anyone who tries this self-treatment. I’d also appreciate it if you would share this blog post with anyone you know who is a runner, wears high-heels, or drives long distances (all common reasons for plantar fasciitis).

Wishing you well,

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