A therapist Treating plantar fasciitis with massage therapy on a client

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Though pain in any area of the body is uncomfortable and unwanted, when it is experienced in the feet, it can be especially problematic because it’s felt with every step.

Jobs involving walking and standing can start to feel impossible to complete and simple tasks such as getting groceries from the car to the house or taking the dog around the block become an even greater chore.

If the foot-based pain is felt in the area of the bottom of the heel, plantar fasciitis may likely be to blame as this condition afflicts more than two million people annually according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), making it the most common cause of heel-related pain today. What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis defined

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects the front of the foot to the heel while also supporting the arch.

The AAOS explains that inflammation of this ligament is often caused by putting too much pressure on it, resulting in injury which leads to inflammation, thereby creating the pain.

Additionally, plantar fasciitis pain is generally worse in the morning or after extended periods of being off one’s feet.

And if the person is physically active, while pain does not necessarily increase in intensity during the actual exercise or activity, it may be more pronounced after it is stopped.

Other risk factors associated with plantar fasciitis include having tight calf muscles and being overweight according to the AAOS. Engaging in repetitive or new physical activity and having a high foot arch can contribute to the development of this condition as well.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) adds that plantar fasciitis tends to appear more often in females than in males (1.19 percent versus 0.47 percent) and is most prevalent for individuals between the ages of 45 and 64 than other age groups.

And though this particular condition causes heel pain, the NCCIH states that it has also been associated with increased falls and disability, and decreased quality of life.

Treating plantar fasciitis with massage

One of the most common treatment methods for easing plantar fasciitis pain is over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers according to the NCCIH, the latter of which has led to a growing epidemic due to misuse and addiction as reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

However, massage therapy is an all-natural pain relief remedy which can oftentimes help without any of the negative side effects associated with many of these pain-relieving medications.

For example, one study published in Manual Therapy in April of 2014 involved 69 patients with plantar heel pain syndrome.

Some of the participants were exposed to eight deep massage therapy treatment sessions while also following a self-stretch exercise program and the remaining participants engaged in ultrasound therapy with the same exercise protocol.

Upon conclusion of the study, researchers found that, while both groups experienced short-term improvement, deep massage therapy combined with stretching was “significantly more effective” in treating the condition than ultrasound and stretching.

Another piece of research reported that trigger point manual therapy can also potentially provide “superior short-term outcomes” when compared to stretching alone.

This particular study involved 60 patients with diagnosed plantar heel pain and those who received trigger point therapy indicated experiencing a greater reduction of pain and improvement in function than those assigned to the stretching-only group.

Additional plantar fasciitis relief options

There are other effective natural treatment alternatives as well, making them suggestions worth sharing with massage clients who struggle with this issue, but also considerations for therapists who have plantar fasciitis themselves.

For instance, one 2014 review published in The Permanente Journal discusses how “plantar-fascia specific stretching had the best statistically significant long-term results” for easing this particular type of heel pain. A few of the stretches that have been shown to offer positive results include:

  • Using a towel to pull back on the top of the foot and holding this position for 30 seconds to stretch the plantar fascia and calf;
  • Pulling the top of the foot back with one hand while using the other hand to massage the plantar fascia for one minute; and
  • Rolling a ball or can under the foot for 60 seconds first thing in the morning and again before bed.

Additionally, this review suggested that each of these stretches be conducted three times, with 30-second rest periods in between.

Wearing orthotics is another option to consider, with Podiatry Today indicating that ready-made foot orthotics are often just as good as those custom ordered by a podiatrist. These types of devices can help reduce strain placed on the plantar fascia, thereby relieving the pain as well.

Plantar fasciitis is a common foot condition, but that doesn’t mean that it should be accepted and tolerated as the norm. Instead, by engaging in massage therapy, stretching, and wearing foot orthotics, many people who suffer with this pain-based issue can oftentimes find relief.

About Happy Feet Plus

Kenkoh is the original massage sandal, developed by master holistic healer Kyu-Kichi Yamanashi in Japan in 1962 and exclusively provided in North America by Happy Feet Plus. Featuring a fully supportive footbed with over 1000 soft latex massaging nodules, Kenkoh Massage Sandals have been scientifically proven to help increase circulation, reduce swelling, soothe pain from plantar fasciitis and other foot and lower leg ailments and detoxify organs and tissues throughout the body. For more information, visit www.kenkohrelief.com or call 800-336-6657.