Plantar fasciitis and massage
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
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Massage techniques are sometimes helpful for plantar fasciitis.
These help to maintain tone in the intrinsic flexor muscles of the foot.
Two major types of massage are longitudinal stripping where the massage is performed in the same direction as the fibers of the plantar fascia and transverse friction which is applied at a 90 degree angle to the plantar fascia.
Massage may stimulate fibroblast activity and promote tissue healing. Since massage may cause pain, the amount of massage applied should be gauged according to the level of discomfort a patient is feeling.
Working on the lower leg muscles, especially those which help to bend the toes downward (plantar flexion), is important. Tightness in these muscles (gastrocnemius, soleus and tibialis posterior ) leads to excessive stress placed on the plantar fascia.
Broadening and lengthening techniques for the posterior calf muscles are helpful. Compressive effleurage and broad longitudinal stripping done with the palm can be used. Massage of these muscles often works well in conjunction with a night splint also.
Stretching the gastrocnemius and soleus is important. Stretching
should be done several times a day. The “wall stretch” is a good exercise. Stand against a wall with arms straight out in front. Put one foot forward with the other foot a couple of steps behind it. Keep the heel of the rear foot against the ground and lean forward to stretch the calf of the front leg. Then do the same with the other leg.
Massage therapists are the ones to consult about these techniques.
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