Thoughts from the journey… Excerpts from a day in the life of Sherry McLaughlin

19Nov/092

Plantar Fasciitis 501

And then there were four...

Plantar fasciitis is number four in the series on the top five running injuries, but certainly at the top of the list for many runners out there. When you climb out of bed in the morning and your first steps are plagued with excruciating heel pain, you just might have this problem.

Here's the thing... the cause of the problem has little or nothing to do with your heel.

The plantar fascia is located at the bottom of your foot and attaches to your calcaneus (the medial calcaneal tubercle, specifically). It's job is to help add spring to the arch of your foot and dissipate the forces of your body weight when your foot hits the ground.

If it is crying out in pain, it is probably overstretched. So don't stretch it! This is a common misconception. Instead, make sure you stretch your calf and hamstring muscles and wake up the gluteus maximus (your butt muscle) on that leg!

For you clinicians out there, here is a short list of things to check on someone with plantar fasciitis:

1. Tight gastroc/soleus - Make sure they stretch with their toes pointed straight ahead

2. Weak gluteus medius - The gluteus medius is responsible for limiting valgus at the knee. Test this with a medial reach with contralateral arm at waist level. Strengthen it with some good mini-band lateral walking or hurdle step 0vers.

3. Tight medial hamstring or gastrocnemius - Trigger points or myofascial restrictions are often found in these muscles on people with plantar fasciitis. For the more curious of you, here is the breakdown:

- Medial hamstring or medial gastroc trigger point signals an internally rotated femur (strengthen the gluteus maximus in the short position)

- Lateral gastrocnemius trigger point signals increased knee valgus (probably due to a lack of ankle dorsiflexion)

4. Anteriorly rotated innominate (creating a functionally longer leg) - fix this with muscle energy techniques

5. An opposite leg that won't pronate (check subtalar joint eversion)

Remember, if the plantar fascia is screaming at you, keep your ears on it, but put your eyes somewhere else. Good luck!

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  1. What are some exercise ideas to strengthen the glut max in the shortened position? Thank you for the blog! Very helpful!! 🙂

  2. The goal is to strengthen the gluteus medius in the short position. This stabilizes the hip and maximizes gluteus maximus function.
    1. Mini-band lateral stepping
    2. Wall airplanes
    3. Side plank with opposite hip abduction
    4. Swiss ball isometric pushes into a wall
    5. Warrior I, II and III (make sure the knee does not fall into valgus)


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