Why you need to stretch your calves
if you have plantar fasciitis
If you’ve ever had plantar fasciitis, you know how debilitating it can be. Pain is usually on the underside of the heel that can be felt with the first few steps in the morning, when standing up after prolonged sitting, or when standing for a long time. The plantar fascia is a ligament that attaches to our heel and the balls of our feet, helping to support our arch. When people have excessive pronation, or flattening of the arch, the fascia experiences increased tension.
What causes pronation? When we talk about cause and effect in the human body, many debatable reasons surface. An impairment that I commonly see in patients who have excessive pronation is calf tightness. When we walk, our calves must lengthen a certain amount in order for our ankles to achieve a certain angle. If we have decreased flexibility in our calves, our ankles may not achieve that angle, and we are forced to move from another area of our foot. This area is the mid foot – exactly where our arch is located. Our joints begin unlocking in order to compensate from lack of movement in the ankle itself, and over time the lack of stability leads to collapsing of our arch.
To see an improvement in your pain, a good start is to stretch your calves very consistently. Although that is not the only treatment needed to eliminate pain completely, this is one of the best ways to help you get through your day with less pain. To get a full treatment plan, it is important to be evaluated by a physical therapist. In addition to increasing flexibility, you may also need to strengthen your foot, ankle, and hip muscles.
By Ryan Kahanu, PT, DPT