The 10 Minute Plantarfasciitis Cure
When in doubt, roll it out!
Ellie’s tips for Chronic Pain Relief
Sometimes I feel like I’m in a coven of Pilates practitioners who possess the secret cures to chronic pain that orthopedic doctors and others in the rehabilitation field seem to be stumped by. I have helped clients who have gone through the circle of healers for years in one session by doing the simplest exercises. In these cases the most effective cures have been attained by using props (roller or pinky ball) to release the muscles and connective tissue, or as we say in the biz, “myofascial release."
What is Plantarfasciitis? Heel Pain!
I have had numerous clients over the years who have suffered from plantarfasciitis, which normally presents as heel pain, particularly in the morning. This can become quite uncomfortable and can cause sufferers to alter their gait and avoid heel strike when walking, which further exacerbates the symptoms by tightening the calf muscles even more. And over time, gait imbalances will create hip issues and pelvic imbalances which then lead to back pain and on and on the chain reaction goes...
For patients suffering from plantarfasciitis, orthopedists will prescribe a litany of cures including: rolling out the foot with a frozen can, injections into the foot, ultrasound, even slicing the achilles tendon.
Maybe because I am an acupuncturist and see most chronic pain as referred from a “trigger point” (or as the Chinese have called it for thousands of years, an acupuncture point), I see heel pain as coming from the calf muscle most of the time. If you look at the chart of the Bladder meridian, you can see how the a point on the calf may refer to the heel, as that is the path of the Bladder channel as it descends all the way down to the little toe.
Plantarfascitis in many cases is a myofascial meridian problem- not a heel or foot problem. The root of the issue comes from the plantar flexors (gastrocnemius and soleus) being too tight and referring that tightness down to the tendinous attachment of the achilles tendon at the heel.
I have had incredible success with a very simple cure: 10 minutes of pinky ball release on the trigger points of the calf. What are trigger points? I would define them as points along a muscle or fascia that are tender. In Chinese medicine, trigger points are considered places where energy or "Qi" is stuck. In western medicine they are defined as “adhesions” in the muscle and/or connective tissue. But either way TRIGGER POINTS are places that HURT WHEN YOU PUSH THEM.
By simply rolling out the trigger points of the calf, (acupuncture points), the fascia of the heel and foot are also released.
How To Find Your Trigger Points
Find your trigger points by using the acupuncture chart, and move the pinky ball around until you feel PAIN. Especially PAIN THAT RADIATES TO YOUR HEEL . Counter to your natural instincts, and very much like giving birth, you need to go into your pain to get results! The more it hurts, the more relief you will feel afterward.
Main Point of the Calf is Bladder 57. Lie on your back and put a pinky ball under the center of the belly of the muscle of the two heads of the gastrocnemius. If you point your foot you can see the muscles of your calf get toned and probably will see the line in between. This is an acupuncture point called BL 57 (Urinary Bladder meridian). Place your other foot on top of your shin so you can push down onto the pinky ball and monitor how much pressure you can stand.
Trigger Point Release
Once you’ve found the trigger point of the calf (see chart BL 57), push down onto it as hard as you can stomach, and roll your calf back and forth, side to side, very small movements, allowing the pinky ball to sink in between the two heads of the gastrocnemius so as to put pressure onto the soleus muscle underneath. Ideally you want to do “cross fiber” massage, which means rolling against the grain of the muscle/fascia. In this case, side to side works because the calf muscle fibers run up and down the lower leg. Release the trigger points for a few minutes or until the pain has decreased significantly. Sometimes you can just hold the pressure and breathe and allow the pinky ball to descend deep into the fascia. Experiment.
Secondary Points Bladder 58, 59: Try moving the pinky ball down a bit and lateral to find other trigger points on the calf (see chart: BL 58 and BL 59). If these points feel tender or send pain down to the heel, then spend some time on those points too.
Other things to help with plantarfasciitis:
-Sleep with sheets untucked. If you like your sheets tightly tucked in, your feet will be held in “plantar flexion” all night (feet pointed). This tightens the calf muscles even more!!
-Try a boot sock at night. This pulls the toes back and keeps the foot in dorsiflexion all night which allow the plantar flexors to lengthen while you sleep.
-Stretch your calf muscles.
Keep back leg a little bent to get the deeper "one joint" plantar flexor.
Keep back leg straight to stretch the superficial, "2 joint" plantar flexor.