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Heel Pain “Epidemic”, Dealing With Plantar Fasciitis

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Plantar fasciitis. If you haven’t had to deal with it personally, just ask around. Chances are you know lots of people who can describe it in great detail: stabbing heel pain and agonizing steps followed by a frustratingly slow recovery. Plantar fasciitis — an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the arch from the heel to the toes — has become so ubiquitous that sports practitioners can practically make the diagnosis before a patient even sets foot in their office.

Plantar fasciitis has become a mark of modern life, but it’s far from inevitable.  Heel pain could become a relative rarity, assuming we are willing to take better care of our feet.

It’s definitely something you’d rather avoid given the choice. If your plantar fascia gets inflamed, you’ll probably feel knife-like heel pain as soon as your feet hit the floor in the morning. The pain generally eases throughout the day, but some people wince with practically every step.

 

Blame the shoes

Plantar fasciitis often strikes runners and serious walkers, especially if they’ve recently started going much faster or farther than their feet were accustomed to.  Increases in intensity and frequency in ones fitness regimen is often a major cause of plantar fasciitis.  It also shows up in a lot of sedentary middle-aged people carrying a little extra weight.

Whether they took the hard or easy road to plantar fasciitis, people are desperate for relief. Many try wearing heel cushions under the sore spot, but that misses the point, heel cushions have little effect.  It’s an arch problem, not a heel problem.

We see a lot of individuals wearing the wrong footwear for their activity.  Shoes like other forms of fashion sometimes have more fashion sense then functional sense.  Currently the big trend is ultra-light freemotion or barefoot style shoes for running and training.  I want to point out that there is nothing wrong with these forms of footwear if you are using them properly and they are right for your foot mechanics.  Shoe retailers are in the business of selling shoes period, it’s up to the individual to determine what is needed for themselves.  For example, if you are training in a functional or agility setting that has a higher impact effect on the heels or midfoot then a freemotion running shoe is probably not the right fit for that activity and you should look for something with a lot more cushion.  However, if you are doing speed work on the track or field or running a 10K and are an experienced forefoot runner then a freemotion shoe is probably a good fit.  Always fit your shoes for the activity you are doing and not for the trend at the time.  In most cases individuals will have different shoes for different activities.

Another possibility is foot mechanics, and that is fixed through orthotics.

Orthotic insoles that support the arch can definitely help ease the pain.  It’s a matter of determining the underlying contributing factors and eliminating the stress.

Runners or walkers with plantar fasciitis should definitely make sure their footwear is up to the task.  If you exercise regularly, you need to change your shoes every three or four months, even if they look great on the outside, the support on the inside can wear out.

For treatment, stretching is frequently recommended, but there are other options. A growing number of sports doctors offer to treat plantar fasciitis with low intensity laser therapy, which involves increasing the local tissue repair, reduce pain and inflammation in the heel, and speed up heeling.

The take home message is to not ignore this issue because it will not go away and will eventually cause you to stop doing what you love.  If you are noticing heel pain yourself then have your sports practitioner look at it immediately so you can get back to doing what love to do.

 

Dr Todd Marshall, DC, ICSSP, FRCCSS(C)

Fellow Royal College of Chiropractic Sports Sciences Canada

Internationally Certified Chiropractic Sports Practitioner

 

October 26, 2013 0

Stress and your Stomach

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Do you feel your stomach clench into a knot when the thought of your upcoming presentation enters your mind? Maybe you feel a little queasy when you think deeply about the familial obligations that coincide with the holiday season? Your mood, especially stress, can have a clear control on how you feel-especially in your stomach.

Stress is a double whammy for your GI tract. When you are stressed, your body releases two fight or flight hormones-cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones move all energy to your muscles (so you can fight or flee!), but in doing so, slow digestion. But in your 21st century hectic life, chronic stress can lead to constipation, ulcers, and chronic stomach aches. It can also start to eat away at the healthy bacteria in your gut, as it increases inflammation. Without healthy microflora in your gut, your body will not have regular bowel movements, and it can also have a negative impact on your immune function. No wonder your stomach is in knots!

Relieve your stress – your stomach will thank you!

Load your plate with anti-inflammatory foods: Stock up on fruits and veggies, as well as plant-based sources of Probiotics and omgega-3 fatty acids to stop inflammation in its tracks.

Write it down- Write down the thorn you are dealing with right now. Also write down one thing that is going well, or that you are happy/grateful/excited about.

Don’t be afraid to say no. Taking on too much is a sure way to end up with a stomach ache. Don’t be afraid to prioritize, and say no to things you can’t manage.

Try a simple meditation. Sit in a quiet space, and tune into your breath. Try to focus just on your breath. With each breath in, breathe deeply into your stomach. With each breath out, release stress and frustration. Continue this for 15 minutes.

October 26, 2013 0

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