Plantar fasciitis is a painful disorder as well as a dangerous one. It occurs when tiny tears develop in the fascia of the foot, meaning that the collagen is no longer as effective. Hence, one feels a shock of pain when they try to apply pressure on that part of their body.
The pain of this disorder is not the only downside. There could also be scarring, misalignment, and disfigurement involved. This could be a devastating occurrence for athletes as well as anyone who is living an active lifestyle. The treatment for such a problem could be long and tedious. However, the silver lining is that several treatments are underway and have been successful to a large extent.
One treatment that gives us hope with plantar fasciitis is that of self-massage. While there are experts available to massage feet with this disorder, self-massage allows one to place pressure just where they feel they need it most. We’ll discuss some of the benefits and research backing up this mode of treatment below:
Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage
A proper deep tissue massage is often the first kind of treatment applied to a foot with plantar fasciitis. Other options such as injections of steroids or surgery are used when non-invasive treatments have proven ineffective. The first benefit is, thus, that this treatment doesn’t pose the risk of changes in the body’s chemical makeup or has the permanent effect of surgery.
If you’re still not convinced, below are some more benefits of going for the massage option for treating plantar fasciitis.
Scientific Studies Supporting the Benefits
There has been a clinical trial that researched the effects of a massage on the foot. Along with this, some mobilization exercises were also involved. It was conducted by The Massage Therapy Foundation and was published in the Manual Therapy journal in September 2013.
The clinical trial discovered that a sports massage of the deep tissue kind would stretch out the plantar fascia, making it easier for the collagen to heal. This would strengthen the foot and get it on the way to its former health. However, it is highly recommended that a patient of plantar fasciitis consult an expert in foot disorders before attempting self-massage techniques and carry out the techniques properly.
There are several pressure points all along the foot that could guide you in self-massage therapy. These are listed below:
- The ball of the foot
- The sole
- The Petrissage sole
- The ankle
- The plantar fascia itself
- The metatarsal bones
- The posterior calf
Whenever you apply pressure on the points above, don’t try to press too hard or too quickly. Firm, smooth, and relaxed movements have proved to be the most beneficial, especially in a situation like this. If the movements are too rushed, you may risk more damage.
The ways for massaging a foot with plantar fasciitis are many and varied. However, the one used in the clinical trial mentioned above used a stretching technique with some pressure on the posterior calf. This method offered better results than the ultrasound treatments with the stretching.
It seems as if the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles are the most vital in dealing with plantar fasciitis, so your massaging technique needs to focus on them. The plantar fascia also needs some attention in order to provide the most benefit. The following steps would help you prepare for the most beneficial self-massage:
- Take a lubricant so that the massage could be smooth and soothing. While there are several massage oils available in the market, baby oil is a cheap and viable option. You could even use essential oils for this purpose.
- The lubricant should be just enough to make your hands and foot smooth and malleable. Too much oil would result in losing valuable friction. Take a tiny bit and increase in small amount to avoid overoiling during the massage.
- Place your foot on a flat and sturdy surface. This would ensure that the pressure is applied firmly and evenly.
Some more techniques for self-massage are given below. You can use the ones you like.
Light on Top
This technique consists of stroking the foot firmly but lightly from the toes to the foot’s top. This is usually the ankle or just above it. The sole should be placed on a firm surface or a hand in order to keep the foot stable.
Spreading It Up
The metatarsals may need to be spread out in order to alleviate the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. For this, put your thumbs on the metatarsal point and your fingers under the ball of your foot. Firmly hold your foot like this and work your thumbs in an outward movement. This would spread out the metatarsal bone structure. Repeat these movements at least five times per session. You can mix things up with light striking movements too.
On the Petrissage
Use your thumbs to put cross pressure from the heel of your foot. Then, work your thumbs toward the ball of your foot. Put pressure on the sole and take it down to the heel as well. This procedure needs at least ten to fifteen repetitions
This technique uses the heel of your hand. Use this to put deep and constant pressure from the foot’s ball to its heel. You may notice some slight discomfort but not so much that your foot muscles start to stiffen. When performed properly, this method is great for relaxing the plantar fascia, where the source of the problem lies.
Like a back massage, use your thumb to apply pressure in circular movements on your plantar fascia. This would do away with the lumps or knots that could form when this disorder occurs. Put as deep a pressure as you can manage without seizing up the foot muscles.