Can healing the feet save our bodies? Is a simple foot massage the key to a viable, lasting physique, making your massage therapist your new savior? Everyone knows the greatest structures on earth have to have a great foundation in order to survive, and that includes the human body. Think about it, would you rather be the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the Eiffel Tower for one hundred Hearst to? Ironically, the feet are the most neglected body parts of the body, yet they have such a great responsibility. They literally carry their own weight plus the rest of the body, and whatever else we decide to carry that day. It’s no wonder when they break down most people are out of commission for a while, but I think God had a plan when he created our feet. Our feet are armed with 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments, pressure points that connect to every major organ and gland in the body, providing an automatic healing and rejuvenation of the related parts, not to mention, in the words of Chris McDougal, your foot's centerpiece is the arch, the greatest weight-bearing design ever created. The beauty of any arch is the way it gets stronger under stress; the harder you push down, the tighter its parts mesh. The arches of the Roman Aqueducts are so strong they're still standing after nearly 2,000 years. The problem comes when we do stupid things like wearing the wrong shoes, and breakdown the great creation. We create problems that slowly tear down our foundation and eventually crumble our houses to the ground. There are many ailments of the foot but I will be focusing on one of the most common and most annoying, plantar fasciitis (PF). I, like many other people around the world have suffered from this condition.
Plantar Fasciitis is the stretching, irritation, and tearing of the plantar fascia, the shock absorber of your foot, which can sometimes become inflamed or irritated but in all actuality is hardly ever inflamed. PF feels like a stabbing or deep ache in the heel of the foot, and is most times self-diagnosed and self-treated, however there is an exam that the doctor performs to give you an official diagnosis. The doctor will usually check the foot for redness and swelling in the affected area, he or she would then palpate the foot and may require an x ray and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). PF affects most people in the morning when they first wake up, but can also flare up if you are using your affected foot too much, running, standing too long etc. There are over 3 million cases per year, most of which are runners, overweight people, or people who simply wear the wrong shoes. You can have PF at any age but it is most common in people over 40. Prevention of Pf before ever having it is rather simple, watch your weight, wear the correct shoes for your feet and be careful with strenuous exercises, it’s prevention after diagnosis and when it has gone away that is a little tricky. For post PF prevention most people have to purchase special shoes and/or orthopedic inserts. Being weary of very hard surfaces when you run, work out etc is also very helpful, another remedy a physician suggested to me was to leave a pillow on the floor when I wake up, that way the first surface my foot touches is nice and soft. It sounds silly but people with Pf will try almost anything, I have even heard of people sleeping in the bed with soft slippers on their feet.
According to the New York Times a recent study of novice runners found that those who developed plantar fasciitis generally required at least five months to recover, and some
remained sidelined for a year or more. The good news is, it doesn’t have to last forever. In the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, they believe the most effective measure is standing barefoot on the affected leg on a stair or box, with a rolled-up towel resting beneath the toes of the sore foot and the heel extending over the edge of the stair or box. The unaffected leg should hang free, bent slightly at the knee. Because it’s so common, most people have tried some home remedy or treat it themselves, by stretching, over the counter medicines like ibuprofen, splints or braces, or the old school favorite RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation. Some doctors prescribe orthotics for your shoes, night splints which stretch your gastrocnemius while you are sleeping, steroid shots which I think are counterproductive and may lead to more problems and a weaker plantar fascia, shock wave therapy that sends sound waves into your heel, or a surgery where a doctor will detach the plantar fascia from the heel all together. Having the surgery performed may cause issues such as a weakened or fallen arch, I have personally been told by a physician to avoid the surgery at all cost and that it does not work! What I have found works best for me, is a deep tissue massage to the gastrocnemius and feet with a little stretching peppered in there! Since I started massage school I have rarely had any irritations and barely notice any pain in my foot. In turn once my feet were healthy and I could walk properly again, I noticeably had less back pain, I slept better, and overall had a better quality of living, I wholeheartedly believe it came from the massages.