If you have ever had foot pain you have probably heard the term plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a strong, thick, band of connective tissue that begins at your heel (the calcaneus bone) and runs all the way to your toes (it connects at the metatarsal bones). The plantar fascia is wide and flat, kind of like a ribbon that runs the length of the bottom of your foot. The plantar fascia is made up of very dense and structured collagen fibers.
The plantar fascia, as seen in an actual human, is white and smooth. It is very organized and tightly packed so that it almost looks like plastic. The plantar fascia has lots of purposes, but two of its main purposes have to do with foot support and walking. The plantar fascia works a little bit like a spring and helps propel us forward as we walk. It also serves as the main support of the arch of your foot.
As you walk, the part of the plantar fascia that takes the most pressure and stress, is right where it connects to the heel. And to be even more specific, on the outside of your heel (in medical terms that is the lateral portion of the plantar fascia--the part of the plantar fascia that is furthest from your heart.)
If you have been looking for information about the plantar fascia (either from your doctor or the internet) you may have also heard or seen the term plantar aponeurosis. Do not worry. Those are not two different things, they are the same thing. There is some debate in the scientific community about whether or not the plantar fascia is actually an aponeurosis or fascia (they are both types of connective tissue, they just differ in their main function and there is some debate when it comes to that about the plantar fascia.) For the purpose of this post, we will refer to it as the plantar fascia.
“In our bodies everything is connected. Even though they may seem unrelated, the health of one part of your body can affect the movement of the other parts of your body. Is your shoulder sore? It may be affecting the way that you walk (because the way you swing your shoulders is an important part of your gait) and the health of your feet.”
As with everything in your body, understanding the idea that everything is connected is an important part of understanding the plantar fascia. Back, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, and feet are all important parts that work together to help us walk or run--if something is wrong with any of those parts it can affect any of the other parts.
The plantar fascia works very closely with two specific parts of the body. When we are born, the plantar fascia is attached to the Achilles tendon. As we get older, that connection very slowly dissolves, and in the elderly, there is very little connection between the two. The plantar fascia is also closely associated with the flexor digitorum brevis muscle (FDB) which is the muscle that controls all of your toes except your big toe. Your big toe is used to help you keep your balance, while your smaller toes are critical in spreading out a load of walking.
The plantar fascia is such an important structure that it is imperative that you take care of yours. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis your doctor may have already given you a list of things that you can do to help treat your pain. These may include plantar fasciitis stretches, a mixture of icing and heating for your foot, and good old fashioned rest. If you do not suffer from foot pain or plantar fasciitis, there are some things that you can do to keep your feet healthy and even help prevent foot injury.
- Wear proper fitting shoes: Improper footwear is one of the leading causes of foot pain and foot injury. We always recommend KURUs with their Heel HUGR technology which actually cups the heel of the foot and helps to prevent injury. Many people are actually wearing the wrong size of shoes, so before you buy your next pair, go and get a professional fitting. At many athletic stores and high-end clothing stores, staff is trained to fit shoes properly. Go in and have them measure your foot, you may be surprised to find that you have been wearing the wrong size for years.
- Lengthen your calf muscles: Longer calf muscles mean that your plantar fascia will have their full range of motion. There are lots of ways to lengthen, stretch, and strengthen your calf muscles, Yoga is an excellent exercise option for those who are interested in lengthening their calf muscles. You should also be sure that you are stretching after running or walking. There are also braces that you can wear at night which help to lengthen calf muscles.
- Strengthen your toes: I know this sounds absolutely ridiculous, but yes, I am suggesting that strengthening your toes will help prevent foot injury. These strengthening exercises are most easily completed with a fitness band. Make a loop with the band around your 4 smaller toes. Hold the top of the band at your knee, keeping the tension steady, and use your toes to push down on the band.
Protect Your Plantar Fascia With Supportive Shoes From KURU
All of our KURU shoes, no matter which style you choose, begin with anatomically correct arch support. (For those with high arches, this might not seem like enough at first, whereas those with low arches may feel like it's too much.) However, over time, they use your body heat to mold to your exact foot shape, so you get a custom fit, and exactly the support you need, no matter what kind of arch you have. This perfect arch support is the absolute best way to prevent and relieve Plantar Fasciitis pain.
Experience a higher quality of life, pain-free, with KURU Footwear.No matter which activity you are wanting to do in your life, KURU has a shoe for you that will give you the support, comfort and style that your feet have been craving.
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