Plantar Fasciitis 101:
Do flat feet cause plantar fasciitis? What is overpronation?
Plantar fasciitis is probably one of the most common diagnoses that my clients want help getting rid of. It can make the first few steps in the morning extremely painful and prevent you from spending as much time on your feet as you'd like.
Plantar fasciitis is simply the irritation of the soft tissue that is under your foot. Specifically, the plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue that runs from your heel to the ball of your foot and it helps to support your arch. Typically, this band of soft tissue becomes painful when there is undue repetitive stress along the bottom of the foot.
The most common things that people try for plantar fasciitis are new shoes, insoles, orthotics, massage, ice, night splints, avoiding barefoot walking, foot strengthening exercises, and stretching out their calves. If you have a fairly mild case of plantar fasciitis, you may do pretty well at managing the symptoms you are experiencing and for a few lucky people, this could be enough to resolve your symptoms. For most people, these solutions end up being more of a band-aid that doesn't provide the relief they were hoping for.
In order to get to a better solution, you need to actually understand what's happening in your foot posture AND your whole body posture. The most common half truth that I see and hear is that plantar fasciitis is caused by flat feet, also known as overpronation. The thought is that the arch of the foot sits too low, creating increased strain on the bottom of the foot and developing into the pain you know as plantar fasciitis. The reason I call this a half truth is not because I disagree, but rather that I prefer to more fully describe what's actually happening so that people can seek out better solutions that serve them well in the long term.
In my experience, there are 2 types of flat feet...the type that move well and the type that don't. In a foot that moves well, the plantar fascia on the bottom of the foot doesn't always stay in a lengthened state and gets an opportunity with each step to shorten into and arched position. This shortening should happen when your foot is behind you and pushing your forward. In a foot that doesn't move well, the planter fascia stays lengthened and never gets a break from that position. This lack of movement and chronic strain is not healthy and can cause all sorts of foot and other body pain problems, but the problem is NOT flat feet. The problem is that they do not move well.
It is also interesting to note that people with high arched feet get plantar fasciitis too. This again is better understood as a foot that doesn't move well, but this time having trouble with the lengthening potential of is movement.
Poor movement of the foot could be caused by a stiffness in the foot or toes, but it's is just as likely that our feet are compensating for a lack of motion in a different part of our body, such as the hips. Posture is yet another important player as it can affect where we have pressure under our feet.
Here is something to feel. Stand with your feet planted underneath your hips and pay attention on how your feet react to your movement. If your lean your head and shoulders forward, do you feel your toes grip? If you twist side to side, do you feel pressure shifting to the inner and outer aspects of your feet? Do you feel changes if you tip a bit sideways?
Our feet are generally more comfortable if pressure is well dispersed and spread through the bottom of our foot, but if we stand with our head, shoulders, or hips shifted, rotated, or tipped this will also move where our foot pressures are and change how well our foot moves from that starting point.
I take a foot pressure scan with all my clients and I find it an extremely useful starting point to get a deeper understanding of what is causing their plantar fasciitis or any other problem in their body.
The good news is that there is usually something that you can do to get your feet to move better. It just helps to know more about your feet and body before you start applying a solution.
If you are struggling with foot pain and are curious about what your foot pressure scan looks like, the best place to start is with a free phone call. You can schedule your call by clicking the button below.