Plantar fascitis, or what I like to refer to as “hurty feet” is something many of us deal with, and something I see a lot of in my clinical practice.
While there can be many reasons why one gets hurty feet, most often the issue lies with the inability of the midfoot (defined as the intersection between the forefoot and rearfoot) to lock up for the second phase of gait. As my friend and mentor Gary Gray says, the foot needs to be a mobile adapter when it enters into the ground and a rigid lever when the foot is behind in preparation for push off.
Anatomically the foot is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints and 34 muscles, which means a beautiful synchrony must take place in order for optimal function.
Clinically, I often find that people with hurty feet have weak intrinsic muscles that start and end in the feet. In a situation like this, the multi-joint muscles end up having to do the job of the single joint muscles, resulting in dysfunction and pain. I’ve found that working to strengthen the muscles at the bottom of the foot is a great place to start in situations like these. Of course, the question then becomes which exercise to utilize in treatment. In the video below, I discuss:
- The importance of toe independence
- Building somatosensory cortex space through short foot progressions and taping
- Exercises: Big toe flexion; 2nd-5th toe flexion using a theraband
- The business card test
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