Massage, Reflexology and Osteopathy is very helpful for stretching out the muscles and increasing flexibility. Combined with Acupuncture or Craniosacral Therapy, this can help increase circulation of blood to the muscles in the area and reduce the pain as treatment progresses. If posture is problematic or contributing to the problem in any way then Alexander Technique can be helpful to address this.
From an article by 'Michael Young', NCTMB
I have heard numerous complaints from my clients, coming in for their regular massage therapy treatments, about excruciating foot pain. Some would complain the pain was in the bottom of the foot, while others complained the pain was in or around the toes. Most would comment that the pain was considerably worse in the morning, making it almost impossible to walk when first getting out of bed. Many clients said their doctor had diagnosed this problem as 'Plantar Fasciitis'. I started investigating the best way to help my clients suffering from this ailment. My investigation led to a treatment program that has given my clients permanent relief.
The plantar fascia is a ligament-like band, running from the heel to the ball of the foot. This band pulls on the calcaneus, raising the arch of the foot as it pushes off the ground.
'Plantar Fasciitis' is also known as heel-spur syndrome. It is a common problem among people who are active in sports, particularly runners. It starts as a dull, intermittent pain in the heel. If not treated correctly, it will progress to a sharp, persistent pain. Classic symptoms include pain that is worse with the first few steps in the morning, pain after sitting or standing for prolonged periods, and pain at the beginning of a sporting activity. Problems may occur when part of this inflexible fascia is repeatedly placed under tension. This can occur in various situations, such as running or when people who sit at a desk hold their heels off the floor for long periods of time. This tension causes an overload that produces inflammation, usually at the point where the fascia is attached to the calcaneus. The result is pain.
Plantar Fasciitis may also occur at mid-sole or near the toes. Since it is difficult to rest the foot, the problem gradually grows worse. In severe cases, the heel is visibly swollen. An inflammation process at the calcaneus may produce heel spurs, yet heel spurs do not cause the initial pain or problem. Rather, they are the result of the prolonged muscle tension. If untreated, these heel spurs will cause sharp pain when walking.
Podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons claim that some contributing factors to 'Plantar Fasciitis' and heel spurs include: poor shoe support, the aging process, high arched feet, toe or hill running, family tendency, flat feet and running on sand.
Doctors use ice, medication, physical therapy, orthosis (sometimes known as orthotics), taping and finally, surgery. Let's take a closer look at each of these treatment protocols.
Most soft tissue injuries are caused by muscles and tendons that are shortened. When a person has short, tight muscles, the result is a lack of circulation resulting in inflammation. Ice will numb the area, giving temporary pain relief. However, ice does nothing to increase circulation. In fact, it slows down circulation. Without circulation, no healing can take place. Thus, ice is only treating the symptoms by masking the pain for a short while.
Doctors prescribe strong, anti-inflammatory drugs and these drugs have many side effects. In most cases, drugs simply mask the problem, making the injured soft tissue feel better temporarily. Then the person tends to use the muscles even more, adding to the tension in the muscles. Plantar Fasciitis is not caused by a drug deficiency. Therefore, drugs are simply a quick fix to mask the pain.
The objective of physical therapy is to strengthen muscles. If one strengthens a muscle, that muscle gets shorter and tighter, resulting in less circulation, as well as causing more adhesions and scar tissue. If strengthening was the answer to 'Plantar Fasciitis', then runners would never have that affliction. A runner's muscles are very strong. Runners develop 'Plantar Fasciitis' because their strong muscles get shorter and tighter, through overuse.
These are inserts a person wears inside the shoes to support the foot. These inserts range in cost from $150 to $500. According to The Whartons' Stretch Book, by Jim and Phil Wharton, "Myth #10: Flat feet and fallen arches are corrected by support devices that are put inside the shoe, right? Wrong. If you put a support in your shoe, you are guaranteeing that your 'spring' has nowhere to go and your shock absorber can't absorb shock. It will feel good temporarily, because it will relieve tension in your foot, but, long-term, it will accomplish nothing." In other words, these devices only treat the symptoms by allowing the already tight muscles to remain that way.
Taping will relieve the tension, in a manner similar to the orthotics. This is, however, only a temporary fix.
The surgeon goes in and cuts the fascia in the bottom of the foot. At times, the tendons are even cut. This is an invasive and unnecessary solution. The human body is an amazing creation. Each tendon, muscle and organ was placed there for a particular purpose. After all surgeries, scar tissue develops. These tissues form in irregular patterns which are often stronger than the original fascia. As the body heals from the invasive surgery, the problem redevelops since the original cause was not addressed.
Plantar Fasciitis is an injury derived from repetitive use, similar to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Like any repetitive use injury, the muscle is stressed from overuse. The fibers in the muscle get tighter and tighter. This, in turn, leads to the muscle losing its memory of a normal relaxed state. Adhesions and scar tissue build up. As the muscle tightens, less circulation is supplied to the damaged tissue.
This results in inflammation. The attachment sites of the muscle begin to get sore from this constant pulling. Pain results from the oxygen deprivation of the muscles, tendons and attachment sites.
The culprit is a short, tight muscle or a group of tight muscles. What sense does it make to strengthen an already tight muscle (conventional physical therapy), or to take drugs to mask the problem? Orthotics and taping also treat only the symptoms. Surgery is an extremely radical way to treat the symptoms. Instead, all that is necessary to get a person out of pain and on the road to complete recovery is to release the powerful muscles that drive the foot. As the Whartons write, "to avoid Plantar Fasciitis, concentrate your flexibility work on the lower leg, ankles and feet."
Miracle treatment? No. Simple common sense. This is "the missing link" that the health professionals and specialists are not focusing on. The specialists seldom look at the muscles when searching to discover the culprit for Plantar Fasciitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Tendinitis, Hammer Toes, Tennis Elbow, Piriformis Syndrome, most sciatic problems and more.