What can Rolfing do for heel pain and plantar fasciitis?
What causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is a painful disorder where the plantar fascia, the band of connective tissue along the bottom of the foot, becomes painful. The pain itself is generally caused by inflammation in the area, bone spurs on the heel, micro-tears of the fascia, breakdown of collagen, or scarring. Generally, this is caused by postural imbalances or overuse of the feet from long stretches of standing, walking, or running.
What do we work on during a Rolfing session or series?
During a Rolfing session, we work both directly on the plantar fascia and on the surrounding area in order to bring the foot into more proper alignment.
First, when we work directly on the plantar fascia, we’re aiming to reestablish healthy tissue by integrating the scar tissue that may have formed, releasing overly tight areas that may be pulling on the fascia in a painful way, and rehydrating the tissue to allow it to regain normal function.
The second approach is to work on areas around the plantar fascia that cause misalignment in the feet themselves. Specifically, working to bring the ankle joint back to a neutral position.
This involves working a fair amount in the muscles of the calf, the Achilles Tendon, deep into the lower leg, and sometimes up to the IT Band and muscles along the inside of the upper leg. You can think of these muscles like the “reins” of the ankle. If one side is pulled too tightly, the other side will likely collapse. For instance, if you have over-pronation of the foot, where the inside ankle collapses down, it’s likely due to over-activation or tightness in a group of muscles called the Peroneals that run along the outside of the lower leg:
As you can imagine, if these muscles are pulling the outside of the ankle up, then the other side of the ankle will naturally have to go down, causing an imbalance through the ankle, and causing the ankle to collapse. In turn, this puts undue strain on the plantar fascia to unevenly support the weight of the body, and can eventually develop into problems like Plantar Fasciitis.
This is just one example of an imbalance. Rolfing works with each client independently so that their unique situation can be balanced.
-What do I do after Rolfing?
For Plantar Fasciitis, this may be the most important part of recovery. Learning to use the muscles again and keeping the plantar fascia hydrated and mobile are hugely important once the underlying postural issues have been resolved. You will be shown a series of simple exercises to do throughout the day to help with this. I’m a big fan of keeping things simple, so most of these exercises are things you can do while working, reading, studying, or watching TV.
Disclaimer: Every body is different. As a Rolfer, I work to help people based on their individual needs. There is almost never a one-size-fits-all technique when it comes to balancing the body. As such, what is said here is very generalized, and is meant to give you a better understanding of what is going on rather than diagnose or treat any specific ailment.