Plantar fasciitis is a frustration of lots of riders.
What is it?
A pain and inflammation which comes in the sole of the foot at the heel bone or the ball of the foot that then spreads across the arch of the foot when irritated. The pain is normally worse in the morning and is irritated when walking and running.
Why do you get it?
When you ‘google it ‘ results say it’s due poor fitting shoes with lack of support, walking on hard surfaces or being over weight.
But think about it… poor fitting shoes stop you being able to use the foot joints and muscles correctly… therefore weakening the foot over time.
And the lack of support… if you over support the arch, the muscle don’t have to contract to hold you in a position which then leads to muscles not having to do the jobs it’s self so the muscles get weaker. Muscles are a use it or lose it tissue( like the whole body).
Walking on hard surfaces…. Well why doesn’t everyone who walks on hard surfaces get it? Because it is the strength and movement of the persons foot not the hard surface. The lack of strength of the foot to cope is why some people can and some people can’t walk on hard surfaces. A well moving foot is a strong foot.
Over weight… really 🤦🏼♀️ When someone is over weight it’s doesn’t just happen that they get foot pain. It’s not a ‘symptom’ of being over weight as weight progressively comes on and like, above some over weight people have it and some don’t. It’s more likely people who are over weight don’t move as much, so their feet don’t move well or are not strong enough.
So with all of the above the actual cause of plantar fasciitis is poor joint movement within the foot and muscular weakness meaning the facia gets over loaded.
The biomechanics of the foot
When the foot joints are it blocked or foot is weak then they bone can’t glide and move as the should causing biomechanical changes in gait and stance. Imagine a misaligned cog, it can’t move as smoothly or at all; the foot is the same, if the joints aren’t aligned then the muscles, fascia, tendons and ligaments can’t work as efficiently as they should. When this happens the tissues that move and support that joint get over-loaded. If the tension/force is too much you get micro tears that in turn get an inflamatory response and pain at the attachment points, the heel bone and ball of the foot.
The foot and ankle plays a big part in force transmission and absorbsion of force within the body. If somethings blocked it’s has a knock on effect as another joint then has to have more movement to compensate and long term tends to cause issues higher up.
Why shouldn’t I ride with it?
When riding with the ball of the foot on the stirrup and weight into your heels, your arch of your foot need to be contracted to hold you stable. If the arch collapses we tend to see ankle and knee pain. If the joints in the foot don’t move, the force through the foot becomes too much and causes the micro tears and inflammation as discussed above. Trot is the gait which is worse for this due to the amount of force needed to be absorbed by our body,
If you have pain when your riding and it come in the sole of the foot you will compensations as your brain will not let you load inflamed tissues, making you shift your weight left right or if both feet get the pain you’ll hold on with the knees or hips. This then become a vicious cycle.
What can you do to prevent and cure Plantar Fasciicis.
Here 4 things to try to help and prevent plantar fasciitis.
Roller - (Coke bottle with frozen water or - tennis ball) not because it ‘stretches’ the fascia (fascia has very limited elasticity) but to help Mobilise the joints in the lower foot.
1) Movement correction
Mobilise the foot - this can be done by holding your foot and gently wriggling the joints with your hand or see a professional therapist.
Standing in a staggered stance weight on the back leg. The front foot flat on the floor then try pulling the ball of the foot backwards toward the heel bone. Do this without the toes curling under or losing contact with the floor on the heel of the foot.
Talocrural joint opener
Place one foot behind you with the top of the foot on the floor. Hold on something for balance if needed. Make sure the heel
Bone is straight up towards the ceiling (not twisted in or out). Then push to toes down in the floor to get a stretch in the top of ankle joint. Like your trying to open the joint further. Hold for 5-10 seconds, release then repeat.
None of these should be painful but they maybe hard to do. If in pain stop immediately and get in touch with a profession who can help.