Why NAMING Plantar Fasciitis (or ANY Pain) Can Curb Healing – Do THIS Instead

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This is part 2 of our 5 part series on understanding Plantar fasciitis. Click here for Part I and learn exactly what plantar fasciitis IS and what is causing it.

What’s in a name?

Have you ever noticed that we’re obsessed with naming things? We’ve given every pain in the body a title that includes something like itis, syndrome, disorder or disease on the end. We name viruses and flu strains, and there a lot of people who name their tumors when they get cancer.

In some ways, I get this: when we name something, it feels familiar and less scary. The unfamiliar or unknown feels scary.

However, I believe we’re doing ourselves a massive disservice with all this naming (at least when it comes to pain in the body).

Naming something does practically nothing to help us understand what’s happening or how to reverse it. What it does instead is allow us to take ownership of it. We say things like “I have sciatica.” “I have cancer.” “I have plantar fasciitis.”

“To have”: to hold, possess, accept; to get, receive or take.

Do you really want to hold, posses, accept, receive or take a named pain? Or do you want to find its root cause and eliminate it?

Instead of naming pain, let your body talk to you:

When you know how to interpret your body’s signals, not only will pain stop feeling scary but you’ll very likely quit wanting to name it. Instead, you’ll let your body talk to you. Every “negative” (painful) sensation is your body’s way of trying to communicate to and work with you, so you can both feel unstoppable and live a long healthy life. Your body isn’t trying to annoy or betray you, it’s asking for HELP.

When you look up ‘plantar fasciitis’ online it is almost always described as pain that shows up in the heel where the Achilles tendon meets the plantar fascia.

However, not everyone that experiences plantar fasciitis has pain there.

A LOT of you are experiencing pain in the ARCHES of your foot, maybe even under the ball or big toe.

Some of you may have BOTH at once – pain in the heel AND pain in arches.

Some of you have pain in BOTH feet; and some of you in only one.

Maybe you have pain in the arches on ONE foot and pain in the heel on the other…

Every one of these scenarios suggests a different root cause, possibly multiple and compounding causes!

This is one reason why I’m not fond of naming pain (be it plantar fasciitis, sciatica, ITBS etc), because when we do this, all the important factors – where the pain is, what it feels like, how it might jump around or move depending on activities etc – get lost and we focus on “having” and owning whatever name we’ve been assigned, instead of listening to our body and trying to interpret what it’s telling us.

Only by getting curious about what your body is telling you (feedback via sensation, immobility issues or pain through certain ranges of motion etc) will we start to unravel the puzzle and discover the root cause.

Pain doesn’t happen in a vacuum – it happens out there, in the ever-changing dynamics of life and how you are engaging your body in the world.

To reverse pain quickly and efficiently, we have to look at it out there as well, in the ever-changing dynamics of life and how you are engaging your body in the world. This is why, when I work with people one on one, I have them walk, lunge, jump, step up or down or go run outside in the parking lot – whatever movements get their body talking to them (and me).

Muscle attachments tell  us a LOT:

When you start to tune in to your body and listen, you’ll notice where the pain is, what it feels like, whether it radiates or is sharp and stabbing, and whether or not it moves around throughout the day.

The most obvious and easy to understand “clue” your body gives is WHERE the pain is.

As you can see from this picture, clues appear when we note that the Achilles tendon attaches near the site of pain.

If you have classic plantar fasciitis in the heel only, chances are high your Achilles tendon is tight – and if your Achilles tendon is knotted up or restricted, chances are so is your gastrocnemius and/or soleus fascia.

If you have outside heel pain, in your case maybe it’s the peroneus muscles that run along the outside or lateral part of the calf compartment and THROUGH the lateral heel and ANKLE that are restricted.

Some of you have pain on the INSIDE of your heel, and when we look at that anatomy we see the medial soleus and gastroc muscles, the toe flexor muscles and tibialis posterior.

All of these muscles are the ones CLOSEST to or directly upstream of the foot, and MIGHT be contributing to your plantar fasciitis but it’s important to remember that it could also be something further upstream, or perhaps these muscles being restricted are a symptom of something else (a bigger overall issue such as a hip instability patter – which we’ll talk about in Part 5 of this series).

This is ALL valuable information because WHERE your pain is points to exactly WHERE you need to go to get relief.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to become an anatomy nerd to get yourself out of pain!

That’s where I come in.

I’ve learned most of the plantar fasciitis patterns by now, and I want to take what I’ve learned to help you get – and stay – out of pain.

If you’re in pain right now and want relief in as little as one week, then I want to help you walk away from PF for good!

Break Up With Your PF™ - Say Goodbye to Plantar Fasciitis For Good!

Click for Course Details

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Plantar Fasciitis – What Causes It, Why It’s Happening and What to Do About It

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Are you ready to Break Up With Your PF™?

Plantar Fasciitis, that is.

If you do – first, you have to understand what it is and what’s causing it.

This issue is one of the most debilitating and least understood “injuries” a human being can experience.

I put “injuries” in quotations because (and this is why this issue seems to confound western medical science), there’s often nothing structurally wrong (visible to imaging machines or other diagnostic methods) to point to as the cause of pain.

There are no broken bones, nearby joints probably looks ok, and usually there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with the soft tissue either (other than inflammation), from a western medical standpoint. There might be a heel spur, or minor tearing of the plantar fascia itself – but this is often looked at in a vacuum as the cause and site of pain when it’s actually a symptom of something else.

Without knowing the cause of something it’s almost impossible to know the solution.

Any attempts to eliminate pain without first knowing the cause is like throwing darts at an unknown target in the dark! The chances of hitting the correct target are next to nil.

If you’re ready to say goodbye to plantar fasciitis and hello to happy feet, click here. If you want to understand it more first, keep reading.

What IS plantar fasciitis?

Traditionally, plantar fasciitis is described as “heel pain,” but people are often diagnosed (or self diagnose) with plantar fasciitis whether they have pain in the heel UNDER the calcanues (heel bone) on the bottom of the foot, on the inside or outside of the heel NOT on the bottom of the foot (so, below the inside or outside ankle), whether the pain is in the arches and sometimes PF can be classified as pain under the ball of the foot.

While these details may not matter for a diagnosis (and I am NOT in the business of diagnosing anyone), they sure as heck matter to figure out the solution. We’ll be talking more about the various kinds of PF pain in Part 2 of this 5-part series.

In the simplest terms, plantar fasciitis is “inflammation of the plantar fascia.”

Hmmmm…this doesn’t tell us much, does it?

While it doesn’t tell us much…it’s a start. The problem with most ‘diagnostics’ is, they stop here. But not us. We’re going to take this to its end point – or, root cause. We’re going to ask why like an annoying little kid who will not settle for anything less than the truth, until we get to the bottom of this! (Pun intended?! :P)

So, your foot hurts. And there’s inflammation present…

Why is the plantar fascia inflamed?

Ahhhh…by asking this question, now we can get somewhere!

The plantar fascia is inflamed because something (or several somethings) are irritating it. In order to understand plantar fasciitis, we have to understand at least a little about fascia. After all, it’s even in the name of this debilitating issue!

If you want a more comprehensive crash course on fascia, click here.

What is fascia?

fasciaecmFascia, or connective tissue, coats every nerve ending and then wraps the whole nerve. It wraps every fibril of muscle tissue, every fiber of muscle, every muscle bundle and then every muscle group is wrapped in large tough sheets of the stuff, which come together and turn into tendons and ligaments, also fascia – just a denser version – which connects to our bones. Every bone is coated in a layer of fascia, as are all of our organs.

We have MORE of this fascia stuff than anything else in the body! And this fascial system is meant to be elastic, flexible and able to move with us.

All fascia has within it something called ground substance and the extracellular matrix (ECM), and it is this ground substance that gives fascia its spring because it contains a gel-like substance that keeps the fascia hydrated and our cells nourished.

The ECM is responsible for distributing force and tension throughout the fascial system so we don’t damage ourselves from one hit (it’s our SHOCK ABSORBER!)

BUT – and we’re about to get into what the heck this has to do with plantar fasciitis here in a second – with overuse, under use, age and other factors like trauma and injuries, the fascial system starts to get dehydrated and then brittle. It LOSES ITS SPRING. It also sticks to itself in knots or adhesions, pulling muscle fibers with it and pulling on or irritating attchements.

It is this combo of dehydrated and knotted up restricted fascia that creates pain and inflammation in the plantar fascia.

Why does the fascia become unhealthy?

The posterior fascial chain. Photo rights belong to Anatomy Trains.

The posterior fascial chain. Photo rights belong to Anatomy Trains.

This is the topic of a future episode. For now, we’re sticking to the anatomical or physiological causes of PF pain.

Most of the time, plantar fasciitis pain is stemming from tightness and restriction in your calves and hamstrings. Sometimes it can come from fascial restrictions higher up the posterior chain or in the upper body like your traps, but those cases are rare in my experience and often indiciate a deeper underlying issue.

The most common pattern that falls into this category is a hip or pelvic instability problem. Going after the glute in this case though wouldn’t be the correct solution, because the glute isn’t the problem either, it’s another symptom of dysfunction! (Part 5 of this series is all about this hip instability issue, and I’ll break it down for you so no need to understand it right now!)

Bottom line is…your plantar fascia starts to get irritated and angry. WHY?

Something (or several things) UPSTREAM are starting PULL on the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia.

At the same time, if your entire lower leg compartment has fascia that is dehydrated and brittle, you’ve lost the ability to absorb and distribute force and tension or in other words you’ve lost your SHOCK ABSORPTION! And…

With EVERY step you take walking around, and especially running, there’s nowhere to distribute the impact – so it’s felt –

GUESS WHERE?

YOUR HEEL!

And now we have a scenario where all those tiny bones, tendons, ligaments and joints in your foot are bearing the weight and impact of your body and activities, when that job is SUPPOSED to be distributed throughout your entire lower body.
This is one reason why it can start to feel like you’re walking around on a bruise. In many ways this may be quite accurate, because the calcaneus bone and all the small tendons, ligaments and joints within your foot start to feel the brunt of impact from every step and over time may very well start to bruise.

Your body may give you a pain signal here, or it might not happen until the fascia in your foot ALSO loses its spring and if the plantar fascia becomes dehydrated, brittle AND overstretched it is now in danger of tearing. This is one reason people get heel spurs – the body is trying to throw something down to make up for the loss in plantar fascia spring/length/durability.

OR, you may get the pain signal simply due to fascial restrictions in the calves and hamstrings pulling on the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia.

At some point the body, which is extremely intelligent and doesn’t do ANYTHING without reason, isolates that area for healing via INFLAMMATION.

Guess what inflammation does? It puffs up an area and mimics that squishy gel like make up of ground substance!

The body is likely trying to rehydrate that area with fresh plasma and prevent you from using it because that could cause further damage.

Little do you know, because no one ever told you this, but YOU CAN REHYDRATE YOUR FASCIA and give your foot exactly what it needs to stop getting your attention with a horrible and debilitating pain signal.

Most of the time plantar fasciitis is dead simple.

Like – there’s a tack in your forehead? Let’s pull it out! BAM! Done. That simple.

Notice I didn’t say easy, I said simple – the process of getting out of pain involves effort, curiosity and patience, but if it took you years to get here and it only takes a week or two to get out of pain, I’d say that’s pretty great success!

Sometimes however, it can be more complicated. In Part II we’ll be going over the different variations of plantar fasciitis, and why this matters for getting out of pain.

If you’re suffering with plantar fasciitis and want to get out of pain for good, check out our brand new course by clicking the picture link below.

Break Up With Your PF™ - Say Goodbye to Plantar Fasciitis For Good!

Click for Course Details

If you liked this post please “like” and share it!

Subscribe on YouTube for new episodes every Monday.

For personalized help with head to toe pain issues, click here to schedule a private Skype consultation with Elisha Celeste. SIGN UP for exclusive email updates and get $15 off your first session.