How To Heal Plantar Fasciitis Naturally - Part 1

A condition that affects 1 in 10 people should have effective treatment options, but most solutions are just variations on the same theme. I want to show you a new solution I developed that can offer an innovative option to healing plantar fasciitis (and related issues with connective tissues). As we try to inject more mindfulness into 2021, let’s direct that attention to your foundation so you can begin feeling great every day, starting from the ground up. The Core Boot helps you do just that.

In this article, part 1 in a series on how to eat and what tools to use to promote myofascial health:

  • What is plantar fasciitis?
  • What causes plantar fasciitis?
  • What can I do about plantar fasciitis?
  • What can the Core Boot do for my plantar fasciitis?

What Does Plantar Fasciitis Feel Like?

If you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, only to have that early-morning, restful feeling shattered with stabbing pains the moment the bottom of your feet touch the ground, then you’re already all-too-familiar with the discomfort of plantar fasciitis.

As a fascia and mobility expert, I recommend a wealth of evidence-based strategies to help people manage their musculoskeletal pain naturally.  It hurts me to see people literally stumbling over their own lack of knowledge when trying to get rid of their pain - there are so many options available to those suffering from myofascial pain, most just aren’t aware of them.

To me, pain is a clear sign of being out of balance. Structurally, certain things are important for balance - an attuned inner ear, a strong and symmetrical physical structure, nutrients to provide the building blocks for a resilient body, etc. The sensation of pain tells me that one link in that structural chain is out of place.

In a modern culture of busy-ness, convenience, and distraction, most, if not all, of these prerequisites for balance fall to the wayside in one way or another.

To address any health issue, you have to look at the inputs and the outputs that contribute to it.  How you move, what you do, what you eat, how you feel - all of these have an effect on pain and inflammation. 

As we cover some of the strategies to address plantar fasciitis, I want you to keep in mind that the goal here is not perfection.  Progress itself is the perfection I want you to seek; it’s working to close the gap between where you are now and where you want to be that will make the difference in your pain. There is no quick fix, no magic cure, no thing you can buy that will close that gap for you - it’s just steady and consistent effort that creates progress.


What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Before we can talk about what plantar fasciitis is, you probably would like to know what a “plantar fascia” is in the first place.

“Plantar” is the opposite of “dorsal”. Super helpful right?

 

If it’s been a while since your last anatomy class, “plantar” refers to the bottom of your foot, “dorsal” refers to the top of your foot. The picture above takes a look at the muscles and connective tissues on the bottom, “dorsal” side, of your foot.

Now for fascia, probably one of the most important tissue types that doesn’t get enough attention.  Fascia is a thin, web-like connective tissue that connects, encloses, and provides communication for different layers of your other connective tissues. Your fascia, like other connective tissues, is mostly made up of collagen.

Now, plantar fascia is the layer of connective tissue that wraps the bottom of those foot muscles in a protective sheath. Plantar fascia doesn’t just protect the bottom of your foot though, it has a functional role in the motion of your feet too. Plantar fascia is essential to almost every movement you do, which is why it's almost impossible to escape the pain when it’s swollen with inflammation.

Which brings me to the next definition you need to be aware of: inflammation.  “-Itis” is tagged onto any anatomical term to indicate inflammation. Putting it all together, “plantar fasciitis” is an inflammation of the connective tissue on the bottom of your feet.

Plantar Fasciitis is sometimes called:

  • plantar heel pain syndrome
  • heel-spur syndrome (where a bone spur is the inflammatory trigger)
  • plantar fasciopathy or painful heel syndrome.

Common Characteristics of Plantar Fasciitis Pain

  • Occurs at bottom of foot near heel
  • More severe in the morning 
  • Worsens after carrying weight 
  • Alleviates with rest 
  • Causes heel swelling and stiffness around the joint 
  • Lack of ankle of big toe joint mobility/stability, leading to compensation, compromising stability and mobility of joints as well as the connective tissues around it

Physically-speaking, inflammation of your foot’s foundational connective tissue tightens up that band of fascia and makes you even more prone to injury. When you sleep, that fascia tightens up as it recovers, and as you stretch the band of plantar fascia with the first step in the morning, that tell-tale bottom-of-the-foot pain tells you that all is not well.


Inflammation and Connective Tissue

Inflammation is a hot topic these days thanks to hundreds of researchers converging on the conclusion that inflammation is a primary driver of almost all chronic diseases. It doesn’t matter which condition, chances are that, at its core is an inflammatory component that overwhelms your body’s capacities. Inflammation recruits your immune system into a hyperactive state, and once you pass a certain inflammatory threshold, the damaging power of those immune cells - perfectly designed to attack foreign invaders - spills over on to your own tissues.

Inflammation can be chronic or acute, and the distinction makes all the difference.  When you tear a muscle, sprain a joint, or fracture a bone, the acute inflammation - involving swelling, tenderness, pain, and sensitivity - is essential to the healing process. Think about it, if your broken toe didn’t hurt like hell, then you’d keep using it and you’d never give your body the chance to heal itself!

Chronic inflammation if another story entirely.  Chronic inflammation is the result of that positive, adaptive inflammation left to run for too long. Like a runaway freight train with the brakes shot, chronic inflammation careens through your body, damaging every tissue it makes contact with. That adaptive process is meant to protect you in the short term, but those systems aren’t supposed to be always active. Chronic inflammation lowers your body’s tolerance to stress - lowering that threshold means that every passing perturbation looks like a major threat to your body.

Look at the flu or an infectious disease that’s on everybody’s mind now.  Your body’s inflammatory response involves pain, redness, swelling, and heat - that’s exactly what you would expect from any inflammatory response. When you have the flu though, it activates your immune system throughout your body.  Those immune cells travel through your blood to infiltrate every nook and cranny of your body to seek and destroy invading pathogens.

The systemic, whole body nature of inflammation from the flu is not without sidestream effects.  Have you ever noticed how much more you are prone to physical injury when recovering from an infection? Or vice versa, how chronically taxing your body’s physical capabilities puts you at risk for infection and injury?

What you eat has a huge impact on what you eat, too. Take an example from someone I know.  He always knew that dairy was a bit of a trigger for him - it caused discomfort in his gut, but he figured that he could just keep it in moderation and he’d be fine. Keep in mind, this person was an otherwise healthy, fit, young man.

The holiday season came around, and with it all the inflammatory triggers you could ask for. Dairy, sugar, ultra processed grains, it’s like some of our most revered traditions were specifically designed to launch us into an inflammatory state! 

Well, my friend indulged himself with all the dairy he wanted, and that ended up being far more than what his body could take. Old joint injuries started flaring up, nondescript pain started overwhelming his tissues, his plantar fasciitis became intolerable - and no conventional doctor could see the link between his diet and his adverse reactions. Here was a young guy who went from healthy to debilitated like an 80 year old with chronic arthritis in just the span of a few weeks. And the only thing that changed? His diet.

Clearly, inflammation is all around us, at persistently higher levels than it ever used to be. This is one theory as to why things that are rapidly becoming the greatest inflammatory insults to our bodys (things like dairy, grains, sugar, etc.) were rarely considered inflammatory triggers a hundred years ago. Autoimmunity, allergies, chronic conditions are all on the rise because chronic inflammation from pollution, pesticides, our modern diet and lifestyle, and more is all but inescapable.


What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

The short answer is that the cause of plantar fasciitis is not very well understood. You can probably tell by now, chronic inflammation has a pretty big impact on the inflammation of your fascia, and it only takes an additional physical trigger or a biological predisposition to painfully expose that inflammation on the bottom of your foot.

There are many issues that make you more likely to get plantar fasciitis. Risk factors include:

Neuromuscular Issues

When the connections between your brain (central nervous system) and body aren’t firing right. Muscle weakness of the tibialis posterior or intrinsic foot muscles is fairly common. Muscle & fascial tightness of the leg muscles (eg. gastrocnemius, soleus, achilles tendon, plantar foot muscles) are other common examples. Your gait (how you hold yourself as you walk) speaks volumes of your neuromuscular integration; jerky, off-balance, asymmetrical movement tells me that your brain isn’t effectively communicating through your fascia.

Fascial Adhesions

Particularly along the entire superficial back line (SBL) and not just in your plantar fascia or calf muscles, painful knots are a big indicator for potential plantar problems. Adhesions are common with inactivity, an unhealthy diet (especially too much sugar and processed carbs), and improper movement. Check out my article “Joint Pain And Sweet Tooth: What Can You Do About The Undeniable Link” for more. These kinds of problems show that the issue doesn’t have to be where the pain is; sometimes focusing too much on the feet obscures issues in the entire kinetic chain.

Lifestyle

Referring broadly to everything that affects the way you move and use your body, lifestyle plays a major role as well. Today we face a mismatch between our culture and our evolutionary biology.  We evolved to be relatively active, and now we live in a society that promotes ease and convenience; cultures are evolving faster than we can adapt and our body’s are caught in the crossfire. Modifications to our environment that make us more likely to get plantar fasciitis include: 

  • Poor walking/running form (over striding, improper foot placement, and other problems)
  • Improper footwear that compress your feet into unnatural conformations, shoes with stiff soles, excessive or inadequate arch support, and toe springs (aka the lift in shoes that force your toes upwards).
  • Increased physical stress - if you work out too much, you might be taxing your body’s ability to heal itself.  Additionally, if you work on your feet - construction, manufacturing, teaching, healthcare, etc. - you have to be paying attention to your daily recovery routine to overcome that constant strain.
  • Loss of the healthy, natural cushioning fat pad on the bottom of your feet due to poor aging and poor health can redirect all that force into your more sensitive connective tissues.
  • Dehydration - If your fascia is inflamed and you’re not able to address it, dehydration associated with rest or sleep can trigger plantar fascia in the morning. It makes sense since one function of your connective tissues is to hold on to water for lubrication and shock absorbance.

Inflammatory diet

This topic is so vast that it deserves a whole article to itself. Stay tuned for our next blog where we show you the nutritional strategies that will keep your inflammatory system poised to tackle the issues that are impeding your health.

Comorbidities

The presence of other chronic conditions tells me that your baseline level of inflammation is already high, which can make you more prone to triggering that painful inflammation on the bottom of your feet. Besides inflammation, specific conditions pose challenges for the connective tissues of your feet include:

  • Carrying around extra weight compounds the pressure you place on your connective tissues, that’s why obesity is linked with plantar fasciitis.
  • Unregulated blood sugar, seen with diabetes and pre-diabetes can create nasty connective tissue problems called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These permanently link connective tissues that are supposed to glide smoothly against each other - you can probably see the correlation with plantar fasciitis. Additionally, those AGEs stiffen your blood vessels, which limits your blood's ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. Without effective circulation and blood flow, your fascia is prone to inflammation and injury. Check out Resync Recovery and Resync Collagen, chock full of circulation enhancing nitrates from red spinach extract, beetroot powder, and aronia berry extract, along with other connective tissue and heart-health supporting bioactives.
  • Menopausal women will have decreased estrogen, which translates into decreased collagen rebuilding.  Your fascia is made of collagen, so getting extra collagen in your diet may prove helpful.  Check out our coverage of this issue related to a different collagen-containing connective tissue, your bones “Nitric Oxide and Bone Health: Say NO to Brittle Bones!
  • Pregnant women (I know, pregnancy is not a “condition”!) should use arch support into the 3rd trimester to avoid plantar fasciitis or they should make sure to prevent excessive pronation, ie rolling the foot from the outside to the inside as you walk or run.. 

With the causes of plantar fasciitis shrouded in mystery, oftentimes people don’t even take the time to find out what actually caused it.  Acute or chronic inflammation? Was there an injury somewhere else in your core fascial line - the kinetic chain of connective tissue that literally connects the bottom of your feet to the top of your head? Is there an inflammatory trigger in the food you eat, the air you breathe? What about the way you move, how does your gait look, what is your proprioceptive awareness like?

As you can see, for some health professionals it’s easier to just say “I don’t know” and offer a temporary solution like a tylenol or a cortisone shot. You won’t find that here though.

As a mobility coach, I make it my job to identify the root problems that contribute to your issues.  After seeing the same tightness, lack of awareness, and lack of coordinated, full-body strength, I set out to develop a tool that can help people tackle their physical pain.  Keep reading to learn more about the Core Boot.

What To Do About Plantar Fasciitis?

In the U.S. alone, visits to health practitioners for plantar fasciitis cost upwards of half a billion dollars annually.  Many “victims” rely on self-remedies and often the problem resolves if taken care of correctly, having never visited a health practitioner.

The standard of conservative treatment focuses mostly on the physical. Rest, Ice, and Stretching are the cornerstones of every plantar fasciitis therapy, any podiatrist will tell you that. You need deep rest to recover from the inflammation sustained throughout the day. Ice can help mitigate excessive swelling. Stretching can help relax those extra tense connective tissue fibers.

Core Boot and Myofascial Release

Here I want to give you the opportunity to learn of the newest product to hit the market, the Core Boot.

It’s redefining what mobility, stability, and strength training look like! The Core Boot consists of myofascial release balls held in place at the bottom of your feet. The combination of whole body tension required to balance on the myofascial release balls plus the stimulation of the plantar fascia make this new tool an essential piece of your recovery and strength routine. Supporting the circulation in your plantar tissues helps to enhance your energy and make you feel great!

Synergizing the function of your muscles and your connective tissues generates strength throughout your range of motion from the ground up. It can increase dynamic stability, adaptable strength, and functional length and improve postural alignment to create a structurally balanced body that generates, not wastes, energy.

Here are just a few of the reasons why I created this fitness/rehab tool:

  • Enhance proprioception (aka. kinesthetic awareness) to address and prevent injuries (ankle sprains, lower back pain, heel pain/achilles tendon issues, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, etc.)
  • Enhance fascia health to keep the body flexible and strong
  • Restore tissue hydration to increase range of motion
  • Improve dorsiflexion to gain strong glutes & stable body
  • Increase mobility & stability of the ankles, legs, and spine
  • Enhance plantar flexion & deep core strength.
  • Reinforce posture alignment and improve balance to correct your gait, walking or running 
  • Support circulation & energy from the ground up
  • Gain multidimensional strength.

See the deep changes you can create in your body with just 10 minutes of core boot training per day!

I am very excited that the Core Boot will be available this January 2021.  It will help people to move, train, and feel better every day. We all deserve less pain, more joy, and more energy in our life, and releasing the toxins and byproducts that hold your fascia back with myofascial release is one way to harness that energy.

Form follows function & it starts with your feet. When we feel grounded and balanced, nothing can throw us off in life. The Core Boot will help you get that stability back from the ground up!


Anti-inflammatory Diet and Fascia Inflammation

Like I said, the link between what you eat and your level of inflammation, your ability to heal yourself, and your overall health and well-being is so important that I’m going to devote the entire next article to that alone. If you can’t wait and want to get ahead on how you need to eat to address plantar fasciitis, check out my related resources:

Take a look at my free ebook “Resync Your Performance and Recovery” for a wealth of evidence-based strategies to support the fascia's health. 

Get science-based delicious recipes to keep every layer of your body healthy, with the best-in-class information on fascia, skin, muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and joint health today. Upgrade your knowledge with the entire book, or just a sampling relevant to you, and sample the information in my most recent ebook, “Recover Every Layer of Your Body.”     

My team and I distill the information from hundreds of research studies into 40 nutritious recipes you can use today to shore up the foundation of your entire body’s health. This is an essential guide on how to put your nutrition where your health is and reap the rewards of a targeted strategy. 

Besides these educational resources, I want to help support your connective tissue health with the right supplements too. Resync Collagen, Resync Recovery, and Resync Ready To Drink are like no other supplements on the market. We combine the science behind nitrates for their oxygenating and nutrient-delivering effects (read more here and here) with the building blocks your body needs to support optimal collagen health and the bioactive polyphenol antioxidants to manage the inflammation that’s holding you back. Close the gap between tired and ready to go with the Resync product line designed to help you get what you want out of life!


Emotions and Inflammation

The last thing I want to leave you with is the emotional, brain-body connection. Emotions definitely have an effect on inflammation levels, and mind-body practices like yoga, meditation, prayer, and mindfulness can lower your stress and inflammation levels dramatically.

Your emotions are connected to your body via the nervous system. Specifically, the vagal nerve connects to the deep core line of fascia. The deep core line begins at the base of the foot in the inner arch. It then runs up the lower leg, through the inside of the thigh crossing over the front of the hip, up your trunk, through the diaphragm, the front of the neck, and ends with the jaw. Truly head to toe!

You can see the domino effect here: unhealthy emotional regulation leads to unhealthy nervous system regulation, and that in turn leads to unhealthy physical effects via the lines of fascia that run through your entire body. The emotions we store in our bodies are connected via our breath to our diaphragm and the fascia connected there, too. Being the most sensory rich organ in the body, it’s easy to see how our fascia absorbs the biological effects of our emotions.

Let’s put our best foot forward in 2021. Start with mindfulness, and the other steps will more easily fall in place. How you stand and how you walk will impact how you perform, how you look, and how much energy you have. In short, focus on your base to unleash dimensions of efficiency you didn’t even know you had.

The more efficient your body is, the better you feel, move, and perform and use your talents to produce outstanding results.

Treat yourself with love, compassion, respect, and understanding every day, and others around you will notice and follow.

So go back to the fundamental needs and focus on physical and emotional balance and form ー whether it’s in your career, your family life, or your personal goals, these basic tenets won’t steer you wrong!

Make 2020 an important lesson. Now it’s time to recover your health, rebuild your resilience, and Resync your body for 2021.

 

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Wishing you the best in your health,

The Resync Team


References

Ajimsha, M. S., et al. “Effectiveness of Myofascial Release: Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, vol. 19, no. 1, Jan. 2015, pp. 102–12. ScienceDirect, doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2014.06.001.

Franke, Thierry P. C., et al. “Running Themselves Into the Ground? Incidence, Prevalence, and Impact of Injury and Illness in Runners Preparing for a Half or Full Marathon.” Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, JOSPT, Inc. JOSPT, 1033 North Fairfax Street, Suite 304, Alexandria, VA 22134-1540, June 2019. JOSPT, 1033 North Fairfax Street, Suite 304, Alexandria, VA 22134-1540, www.jospt.org, doi:10.2519/jospt.2019.8473.

Furman, David, et al. “Chronic Inflammation in the Etiology of Disease across the Life Span.” Nature Medicine, vol. 25, no. 12, Dec. 2019, pp. 1822–32. PubMed Central, doi:10.1038/s41591-019-0675-0.

Pascoe, Michaela C., et al. “Yoga, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Stress-Related Physiological Measures: A Meta-Analysis.” Psychoneuroendocrinology, vol. 86, Dec. 2017, pp. 152–68. PubMed, doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.08.008.

Taş, Serkan, et al. “Effects of Body Mass Index on Mechanical Properties of the Plantar Fascia and Heel Pad in Asymptomatic Participants.” Foot & Ankle International, vol. 38, no. 7, July 2017, pp. 779–84. PubMed, doi:10.1177/1071100717702463.


Written by Barbara Depta and registered dietitian Detrick Snyder, MPH, RDN. Updated on 1/18/2020.

Disclaimer

This content is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of any professional healthcare service, INCLUDING the giving of medical advice. No provider-patient relationship is formed. The use of this information, and the materials linked to this content is at the user's own risk. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should abide by the advice of their healthcare provider, and should not disregard or delay in obtaining medical advice for any medical condition they may have.

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