You’ve probably felt crippling foot pain in your heel or arch and a common culprit is plantar fasciitis (PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tus).
It’s an irritation of the plantar tendon, a clustering of microscopic tears at the cellular level. Plantar Fasciitis causes tenderness and discomfort when you walk or strike your foot or heel to the ground.
It’s estimated that this condition affects over 2 million Americans every year. 10% of Americans will experience plantar fasciitis at some point in their lives.
Where is the Plantar Tendon?
The plantar tendon is located in the center of the bottom of the foot, attaching the heel to the toes. The plantar fascia covers the bottom of the foot. Fascia is the netting that covers every muscle, and every fiber of every muscle. It can often restrict proper muscle, ligament, tendon or connective tissue function.
What Causes this Kind of Foot Pain?
More common causes are:
- Being on one’s feet for long periods of time
- Wearing ill-fitting shoes
- Wearing high heels
- Imbalances in the feet (excessive pronation or supination)
- Being overweight
- Having tight hips
- Having tight calves
- Wearing shoes for long periods of time
- Not walking enough
Our bodies are like rubber bands; the tighter a rubber band gets on one end, the more it will pull on the other end. If our fascia becomes stiff, the more we feel that sticky stiffness in our bodies.
So what I’m saying is: if your hips are tight, your feet will react, and if your feet are tight, your hips will react. In the middle are our poor knees … do you see where I’m going with this?
How Foot Pain Can Cause Neck Pain
The toe bones (tarsals) are connected to the plantar tendon,
which connects to the heel,
which connects to the Achilles tendon,
which connects to the hamstring,
which connects to the sacral tuberous ligament (a ligament connecting the sit bones to the sacrum),
which connects to the multifidus (a short muscle spanning 1-3 vertebra),
which connects to the erectors (muscles running from sacrum to the base of the skull),
which connect to the occipital bone (base of skull).
So your foot issue could be causing your neck issue or your hip issue. Or hip tightness could be causing shoulder pain or heel pain.
8 Ways to Soothe and Remedy Foot Pain
1. Take off your shoes.
Yes, I know everyone else says keep them on, but you haven’t allowed your feet do work in the way they are designed to. Ever met someone from a third world country who has plantar fasciitis? Nope.
2. Consider a reflexology appointment.
Assessing the feet (and sometimes calves), pressure points and areas of interest much like a massage session would.
3. Drink more water.
When our body is dehydrated, our fascia becomes sticky and restricted.
4. Learn how to properly stand on your feet.
Your feet are aching for you to listen to them. Posture starts at your feet.
5. Taper down.
If your goal is to run barefoot and you’ve been wearing highly supportive shoes, you need to taper down slowly. Find someone who is educated in this process like a chi running coach who can safely guide you.
6. Try rolling.
Some ideas: Mayo Fascia Release (rolling), invest in a foam roller, or an acuball, and start rolling your feet and hips. For more ideas, you can check out this post on 4 Foam Rolling Hotspot for Fascia Release.
7. Open your hips.
Tight hips can often be an issue to foot pain. Spend a few minutes each day stretching your hips to give your feet a step in the right direction.
8. Join a yoga class. (Hint: My Mindful Movement Online Studio Costs Less than one in-person class for an entire MONTH!)
Not all yoga is created equal, but do your homework and ask the instructor if he or she is knowledgeable on this subject and go from there. I have studied and taught about the body for 20 years. I have yoga sessions included in the Mindful Movement Online Studio specific to your pain points.
If you are looking for pain relief products, whether for your feet or other parts of your body, look no further:
The Ultimate Toolkit – Props for a Successful Practice
This post I originally wrote for MindBodyGreen, updated on 9/26/19.