Fri,Jan 04, 2019 at 03:24PM by Carla Mullins
Those who suffer from plantar fasciitis well know that familiar, sharp pain in the heel and bottom of the foot. Taking those tentative first steps when you get out of bed each day can be a less than pleasant experience! Pain is also frequently brought on by bending the foot and toes up towards the shin, making walking painful and difficult, particularly on soft surface such as the beach. Plantar fasciitis exercises can help alleviate the pain and other symptoms associated with this condition.
Over the years I have found clients needing to work on their feet and lower limbs daily to overcome their plantar fasciitis. Causes of plantar fasciitis are not clear, however the general explanation for feeling worse in the morning is because at night your feet are in the plantar position (i.e. toes pointing, a bit like a dancer would do), so when you first flex your foot this irritates the plantar fascia.
One of the reasons we developed the Makarlu Lotus was to help some of our our clients at Body Organics, those who were struggling with the various massage and strengthening toys lying around their lounge room and cluttering up their luggage to deal with daily exercise programs. If you do not have a Makarlu Lotus then for the exercises below you could try a foam roller, HedgeHog, pinky ball, Franklin Ball or slant board.
Plantar fasciitis exercises to relieve pain and help treat symptoms
Most plantar fasciitis cases can be improved within six months with conservative treatment. Typical treatments can include calf strengthening exercises and stretching techniques for the calf muscle, Achilles tendon and of course the plantar fascia. Other treatments can include massage therapy, heat, ice or by simply resting.
In this article we will look at some simple ways that you can modify and adapt your Makarlu Lotus for:
// Graded stretches, changing the angle and pressure to meet tolerance on any particular day or time;
// Fascial release of the foot and the leg;
// Intrinsic muscle strengthening.
Step One: Loosen up the ankles and calf muscles
One option is by standing on the Makarlu Lotus in what I call the mushroom position. I prefer this option to standing on a soft ball as it gives me greater proprioceptive feedback when working in multiple directions.
The hardwood base of the Makarlu can be used to encourage better activation of the intrinsic muscles of the foot, which are important when working with conditions like plantar fasciitis.
I would also work to release the calf muscles through toe releases and the use of Makarlu in slant position (see below). Note that you can increase or decrease the slant angle by changing which of the three Markarlu domes you use with the hardwood base – small, medium or large dome.
Step Two: Release and trigger work within the foot and the leg
As an alternative you can use HedgeHogs for this plantar fasciitis exercise, but HedgeHogs do not have the variability offered by a Makarlu Lotus. With Makarlu you can change the resistance depending on your tolerance on a particular day. If you are in a lot of pain go with less resistance so take out one or both inner domes. If you are feeling good on a particular day then add in one or both domes.
Another way to release the calf muscle and plantar fascia is through the Helmet Heels series, standing on the smallest dome in about nine spots along the back of the heel. This helps release at the Achilles tendon attachment point and triggers at the insertion point of the plantar fascia.
The Glutes and ITB can also become very tight because of poor walking patterns. As a result it is important to keep them loose and released.
Step Three: Strengthen using the intrinsic muscles
Some intrinsic muscle strengthening is also important, e.g. by standing on the timber domes and working on the activation of the arches.
An extra little tip is to place the hardwood base between your toes as you sit on the floor, reading through your feed, just to encourage space. Then after that do your toe lifts, using a theraband between each toe. The band lifts, mean that you encourage the toe to lift hold and press against the band to build feet strength and release calf muscle activation.
These exercises for plantar fasciitis are some of the ideas and strategies that are used when working with pilates teachers and physiotherapists using Makarlu.