Have you ever woken up one morning and as you step out of bed and place your foot on the ground suddenly get a shooting pain through your foot? You ask yourself how this happened or think about what you did yesterday that might have brought this on. What you may be suffering from is plantar fasciitis; this condition is caused by an inflammation in the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot that holds your bones in place. When this area is inflamed, it can make standing for long periods of time or even walking very difficult and painful. In most cases, it could be due to running or walking, an increase in weight gain, a flattened or very high arch or if you generally have a tight Achilles tendon.
How Does this Happen?
First, a little anatomy lesson, as mentioned above the plantar fascia is a thick and broad band of fibrous connective tissue that runs along the bottom or plantar surface of the foot. It attaches to the heel, the calcaneus, and fans out along the length of the metatarsal bones to attach right at the the region of the balls of the feet. The foot normally has an arch and the plantar fascia is located at the base of that arch and acts like a thick bowstring on a violin to keep the arch in the foot. The plantar fascia acts as a rubber band and will move and contract and loosen when there is movement in the foot.
When there has been repeated microscopic tears at or near the attachment of the plantar fascia and the calcaneus, inflammation and pain is what occurs. Again, due to any type of increased activity in sports, running on your toes and other examples mentioned above, they can all contribute to plantar fasciitis. Bone spurs or heel spurs can sometimes pop up as a result of plantar fasciitis.
The pain usually starts out as a dull pain in the heel that occurs on and off, but over time, will progress into sharp and constant pain in the heel. It tends to be worse first thing in the morning because the ligaments tighten as you sleep or after sitting or standing for a long period of time. The pain lessens as you walk around more and warm up the tissue and increases when standing or walking.
Since the plantar fascia supports and absorbs so much weight and pressure, any type of excessive jumping or putting on some extra pounds can exacerbate the problem. A more widely known reason for plantar fasciitis is wearing incorrect shoes. The shoes either do not fit properly or do not provide enough support or cushioning.
Different Methods to Heal Your Heel
Plantar fasciitis can usually be treated without having to resort to surgery but the recovery time can vary from person to person depending on the severity of the inflammation and tear of the ligament. Obviously the RICE method, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation will be beneficial in this case, especially right after a sporting activity or running. If it is possible, avoid the activity that aggravates the fasciitis and stretching of the Achilles tendon can help as well. In order to prevent this condition, improving the flexibility of the ankle and calf muscles will greatly help with relieving the tension that may be felt in the plantar fascia.
A simple stretch that can be done is Sitting Seza using a yoga strap around your ankles, a simple pose which can be found on Yoga Tune Up® Quick Fix for Feet and Ankles or on the Quickfix Rx DVD. This stretch is one great way to begin to regain some flexibility in your ankles and Achilles tendon and get that deep stretch that is so needed in the plantar fascia.
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thank you.. i have a student recently diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and am doing some research on the condition and ways to prevent and heal in addition to sitting seza- which can be difficult and “sensation heavy” for lots of folks. Looking to get further clarity on what her doctor recommends. thanks for options and Quick Fix Rx suggestions.
Hi, thank for the info, i’ll check also the video to see how to gain flexibility in my ankle and I m rolling my feet every morning, that helps a lot ?
I have had this recently, you rarely think of your feet until there is a problem. I found stretching out the calves and Achilles really beneficial. Also learned that I need to warm up my feet and ankles more if I’m going for a morning run.
I love your detailing of the foot in motion through walking, gait and the fascia description. This is really interesting and a great read. I often have people ask me about the pain in their foot and the achilles and ankles are often overlooked. Sitting Seza will be a great one for these areas! Thank you!
Hi Audrey Snowdon,
It will not hurt your client to do some of the ball sequences before as well as after her surgery. The work she does for her plantar fascitis will help her prepare her tissues for surgery by allowing them to be a bit more supple as well as increase blood flow to the tissues so they can be somewhat healthy before going into surgery. After her surgery, the YTU balls will be invaluable, but be sure that she gets some clearance from her physician or PT if she can do massage work with the YTU balls. There may be some time needed for the surgical site to heal, but she can always do manual work around the surgical site and on the sole of her foot with her fingers/hands to keep the tissues supple and mobile and then as the surgical site heals and scar tissue is laid down, more massage work can be done with the YTU balls. Hope that helps!
Thank you Tia for all of the information about plantar fasciitis. I am working with someone who has a bone spur from plantar fasciitis and wondering if she can do some ball sequences on her feet or if she needs to wait until after the surgery to remove the bone spur.
My husband suffers from PF and heel spurs. It went undiagnosed for the better part of 10 years. He has begun working with the therapy balls and some YTU poses but still cannot attempt Sitting Seza. We are working towards it slowly but I have found that he needs all of the poses to be scaled back immensely. We are finding progress through work in the calf muscles and superficial fascias of the foot and ankle… we’ll get there!
Thank you for your blog. I have been teaching a similiar type of foot stretch but I will now incorporate the straps as shown in Sitting Seza an alternative method.
Thanks for the article! I love sitting seza, but am looking for other ways to help my good friend treat her PF. Thanks for the accompanying video. I’ll have her try those and we’ll see how it goes.
I love the visual message “… acts like a thick bowstring on a violin to keep the arch in the foot.” I’ve always had very high arches and from time to time have some plantar fascia pain. Stretching the calves, improving mobility in my ankle and going barefoot as much as possible have helped tremendously as has rolling my feet everyday!
I’m a little overwhelmed by your article, “it could be due to running or walking, an increase in weight gain, a flattened or very high arch or if you generally have a tight Achilles tendon” I feel like this could happen to me! I’m definitely going to roll out my feet more, I find it so painful to roll them out, my feet are so tender, I suppose that is a major indicator that I need to use the balls more. The pose sit seza is also painful for me, my Achilles are so tight.
Great description of the planter fascia acting like a rubber band. I’ve always heard of the term Planter Fasciitis but was never really sure what it meant. Your description was very easy to understand and picture in my head.It reminds me of the pain you get in your feet after walking around a theme park or zoo for an entire day.
I found this article to be very informative about plantar fasciitis. My mothers suffers from this and also has heel spurs. I’ve give her some YTU balls to roll out her feet, but surprisingly enough, she has an easier time sitting seza then I do.
In my own personal experience, I’ve found a lot of relief for plantar fasciitis by doing down dog. Not just any down dog however – I noticed recently that the foot that was hurting as everting (collapsing toward the arch) slightly. Now, I am more mindful of my alignment and mostly pain free. My current theory, which I’m still exploring, is that since I had meniscal surgery on that leg, my plantar fasciitis is due to compensating for the structural change to my knee. Even though rolling and doing PT exercises helped, they weren’t quite getting to the root of the problem – or maybe they set the stage for my discovery.
Hi Cristina G.,
Rolling the YTU balls on either direction on your plantar fascia is totally okay. It will continue to stay intact. Think about the various other layers that are present either above or below the plantar fascia and they get a huge benefit as well. Squishing the ball under your heel should actually feel good. When you wake up in the morning with the stiffness and tightness, squishing your heel and rolling around your plantar fascia help bring blood into those areas and soften the tissues that have contracted or hardened overnight. Are you getting pain when you roll? Are you also looking at other issues such as type of shoes being worn or how often you are walking?
Hi Tia! Thanks for this article. I am currently in a 3 day YTU Integrated Embodied Anatomy course. I am fascinated by plantar fasciitis since I had my own experience with it the past year. The free Quickfix for Feet and Ankles YTU video in the link below your article shows the rolling of the therapy ball from the ball of the foot to the top of the heel, forwards and backwards. But for someone with plantar fasciitis, should this only be one direction (from ball of foot to top of heel), as opposed to top of heel to ball of foot? So that the plantar fascia being connected to the heel stays intact? Also, for someone with plantar fasciitis, would it be detrimental to squish the ball under the heel, and roll the heel side to side? Could this exacerbate the situation more? Thanks!
Thank you Tia for this informative article. I love sitting seza and need to practice it more often. I’m going to introduce it to one of my personal training clients who suffers from plantar fasciitis.
I tried the Sitting Seza pose yesterday and was blown away at how painful and uncomfortable it was for me to sit on my heels in this way. I found it to be a massive eye opener, who knew my ankles and toes were so neglected and stuck because of it. Don’t wait until you develop a condition, get on nurturing your tootsies as soon as possible!
Thank you for taking the time to talk about plantar fasciitis. A few years ago some of my clients complained about their feet hurting from having bad arches. I couldn’t help them at the time because I wasn’t aware of this condition, but now with this valuable information I can pass it along to future clients.
Hi Garrett…without taking a look at your client’s feet, I would wonder whether they might be feeling some tightness along their calf muscles. The gastrocs lead down to the achilles tendon and then the plants fascia, so it could possibly be tight gastrocs. Or, a possibility that if they have pain in their heels, bone spurs could develop there and that could also be causing the pain. I would recommend trying any calf stretches and even using the Yoga Tune Up balls on their calfs and see if that eases things. Do you also have the the use the YTU balls on their feet to roll out their fascia, maybe they mitt get a different effect there then when they stretch it, might be working looking into. Hope this helps!
Thanks Tia! I’ve had several clients complain about pain in the heal that they have described as plantar fasciitis, however, when i recommend poses, such as Sitting Seza, to stretch the plantar fascia they often say they don’t feel a stretch as all? Could it be possible that their pain is not a result of plantar fasciitis if this is the case?
I have had several yoga students come to me recently with complaints of plantar fasciitis. However, when I offer them the Sitting Seza pose they have actually been quite open, and claimed to not feel much of a stretch or relief. I’m wondering what this might indicate? Could it be that their pain may not be a result of inflamed plantar fasca? Thanks!
Thank you for exploring Plantar Fasciitis. I have a client that has this issue and other complications of the foot and it was very helpful.
Hi Nancy! So good to hear from you and that you are taking the Level 1…it is definitely transforming! I haven’t thought of putting the YTU Balls in the freezer, but will have to give that a try! Yes, Sitting Seza is great and one to work on often to get more flexibility in the toes. Have fun with the rest of the training and hope to see you around in the yoga world soon 🙂
Hi Tia! I’m in the Yoga Tune-Up® Level 1 training in Larkspur this week! Thank you for introducing me to this practice, and for posting on plantar fasciitis, which I’ve been working with for awhile. My new favorite: I put a Yoga Tune-Up® therapy ball in the freezer (inside a plastic bag) and leave it overnight or the equivelant, then roll out my foot am & pm. It hasn’t seemed to hurt the ball and feels so much better than hard ice on my foot. The Sitting Seiza is still a bit much right now but I’m working toward it. Best to you in all your endeavors!
Thanks so much for your informative article on plantar fasciitis. I will be visiting my cousin this weekend and she is suffering from this condition. i am packing the Yoga Tune Up® Therapy balls and hopefully I will be able to leave her with some tools and a set of balls to help improve her condition.
I am always amazed at how we neglect our feet. From housing them in cheap and uncomfortable shoes to pounding them on the pavement all day. Our feet deserve better and Sitting Seza with a strap is great way to engage our forgotten feet. For such a “simple pose” the feedback that you can get from your feet is loud and clear.
I agree, out biggest problem now is shoes. Shoe companies are getting better Vivibarefoot and Truelinks golf shoes are my favorite. A lot are following the trend but they are not having the wide toe box like these two shoes have. This is key. We want our toes to be able to move. If not the strong muscles keep getting stronger and the weak muscles keep getting weaker.
I’m very interested in finding out a non invasive ways to help my own problem with Plantar Fasciitis, and I will definitely try the Sitting Seza pose. I would also recommend the Tune Up ball as a way to stretch out the tightness in area as well. I might also add one more suggestion to the arsenal of ideas which was given to me by Leslie Kaminoff (author of “Yoga Anatomy” and the founder of The Breathing Project) I recently volunteered myself as a subject for his weekly Free Clinics in NYC, and he suggested that when I step forward on my unhappy right foot I should lead with the heel and not with the toe/ball of my foot thus not placing as much pressure the sensitive area. I may seem a little odd at first, but believe me there is nothing worse than taking that first step out of bed in the morning with a surging pain in your foot.
[…] soon confided in me that she was recovering from plantar fasciitis, a fact that she did not share on her intake questionnaire. As we spoke further, Kathy disclosed […]
[…] Tia Ukpe | Thursday, December 9th, 2010 | Comments 7 Category: Uncategorized | Plantar fasciitis can usually cause heel spurs or bone spurs to develop in the heel. The way that bone spurs occur […]
I thought I had flexible toes and feet until I tried Sitting Seza. Its amazing how fixing the ankles together can completely change the pose! Thanks for the suggestion.
I had a client who had to wear boots to sleep at night and could not walk on his own home wood floor in the morning because of the immense pain he experienced. Funny how after years of pills and boots, all it took was 2 sessions of working on his plantar fascia with a tennis ball and golf ball, and the pain went away. YTU Therapy Balls had not existed yet at this point 😉
Hi Tia: Thank you for your article. I suffer from this on my right heel. I did not know what it was for a long time. I started using the tune-up balls and rolled on it whenever I could and it cleared up for a long time. I never even thought to ice it until I read your blog. Thank you so much.
I thought I had a bout of plantar fasciitis recently, but it went away after a week and a half. It was also in the sole of my foot and not in my heal. It was super painful! Regardless of what it was, just thinking that i had it made me empathize with those who have suffered from it. Thanks for sharing your knowledge about this topic Tia!
Many of my runner friends suffers from Plantar Fasciitis during their training and I have often wondered what that was until I experienced it during my cardio/strength training workouts. Fitted for the correct inserts and shoes as well as use of foam rollers or YTU balls under my arches have been a huge help. I would like to incorporate more yoga to assist in relieving Plantar Fasciitis for my friends and myself.
Thank you very much for the very informative article. My mother suffers from Plantar Fasciitis and it took her a very long time to diagnose the problem and to relieve her pain. She started strict physical therapy and became frustrated when she could not relieve her symptoms. I am going to suggest some of the exercises to her and encourage her to stay positive as she is not along with this pain. She recently began a yoga practice at age 60 and I am so very proud of her and this step! Hopefully with more of the right exercises for her feet and yoga she will be able to overcome Plantar Fasciitis. Thanks for keeping us informed!
Juliana, I would say rolling on them before and after work would be ideal. Also, when you come back from work, it would help to walk barefoot around your house, or at least in socks. When your feet are cramped up in your shoes all day, they need to chance to stretch and breath again. I think that it is important that we apply more self care to our bodies, so why not give yourself a nice foot rub. If you are busy during the week, maybe make some time on a weekend. Just by touching your feet and massaging them will give you a greater connection with what you feel there and will give you a new sense of your feet and want to care for them more. Lastly, for your swollen ankles, before going to bed, prop your feet up against a wall with your back on the ground for 10-15 minutes. This will allow the blood to slowly drain out of your feet and relieve any edema or swelling that you have in your feet/ankles.
Natalie, I don’t think that what you are experiencing is plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia primarily covers the sole of the foot. What you may be experiencing are the muscles and connective tissue that are in between your toes and possibly on the top of your foot that are tight. What yoga pose was it when this pain occurred? It may interesting to take note of what shoes you are wearing, whether they be heels or shoes that have a pointy toe box. If your pinky toe and fourth toe are getting squished together when wearing shoes, that might be causing a problem. In addition, it would be good to take a look at you gait pattern and see where you place most of your weight when you walk or if the feet are turned out or not. There maybe several contributing factors, but I wouldn’t know unless I saw your feet and how you walk.
Two things that can help are placing some toe spacers between your feet, You can get them at a nail salon, this will help to open up some of those muscles where you are experiencing cramping. For the top of the foot, you can do a bit of myofascial release by using your feet and placing it on top of your other foot and begin to twist your foot so you are moving skin on the other foot. In a way, you are almost like putting out a cigarette, this will help to break up a lot of adhesion that may be present in the myofascia on the dorsal or top side of the foot.
I work at a boutique all day and wait tables at night! Needless to say I’m on my feet all day and have swollen ankles and achy feet by the end of day. Can rolling on the Yoga Tune Up balls in the morning before my work day help warm up the fascia to prevent this? The last thing I need is not being able to work due to severe pain!
SO is this the same thing as when you get a cramp in your foot and feel like your toe is out of place? I overdid it on putting the prana into my feet during my yoga practice during a particular session and I kept getting a cramp in between my pinky toe and the one next to it in my left foot. Just curious but found this article informative. Thanks for sharing!