Foot problems could be prevented if you pay attention to the foot mechanics that you are given from the time you were born. Most of us aren't even thinking about that, but when you look at the foot and we take one of the most common problems that people have, heel pain, we quickly end up looking at your foot mechanics.

How Your Foot Functions

The foot has to serve a couple of basic functions. One, it has to come down to the ground and absorb shock. Two, your hips are going from side to side, but your feet don't follow with it. In the rear part of the foot there's this bunch of joints back here that work to absorb that rotation. So you've absorbed shock, you've absorbed rotation. To do that the foot has to be a flexible adapter when you hit the ground. Coming off the ground, leg and hips rotate the other way, the arch now comes back up, the weight gets transferred off your big toe, the arch is relaxed, the bones lock together, and you propel well as you go over the ground, pain-free.

How We Treat Plantar Fasciitis

With plantar fasciitis, something goes wrong with the foot mechanics. Balancing out these mechanics is the key to resolving your foot pain.

The most important factors we look at are:

  • Your calf tightness
  • The degree you feet roll excessively or out.
  • The inflammation that occurs at the heel.

With heel and arch pain or the plantar fasciitis heel pain syndrome, once the ligament of the heel or plantar fascia is over pulled, we often have to treat the inflammation of the heel, the over pulling of the ligament, and the calf tightness in the back.

In order to do this, we have a three-part program to treatment.

Decrease the inflammation at the heel 

Treatment of the inflammation is aimed at reduction through use of topical or oral medications, physical therapy, and injection therapy. 

Use of orthotics to balance your foot mechanics

We'll recommend either over the counter or prescriptive supports called orthotics to balance your foot mechanics. The latter is the best way to truly support to your foot and resolve your pain quickly.

Physical therapy for plantar fasciitis

Physical therapy can also be used reduced inflammation, address core issues that may be affecting the balance on your feet, and reduce that calf tightness that goes hand-in-hand with poor foot mechanics.

Proper foot support

Another thing that's extremely important to balancing out your foot mechanics and preventing recurrence of foot pain, is supporting the feet properly with appropriate and supportive shoes. In order for the foot to work it has to bend at the ankle, and the next place it needs to bend is at the toes. The foot and the shoe and the supports shouldn't bend in the middle.

The the principles of selecting a supportive shoe are selecting ones that:

  • bend at the ball, not in the middle
  • is stable and doesn't flop from side to side
  • has a stiff heel counter

To summarize, in order to maintain healthy feet, you need a good foundation that comes from proper support, whether it be over-the-counter or prescriptive custom orthotics and also proper shoes. The combination of these along with treating any inflammation and core issues above the foot and ankle will help keep your feet healthy for a lifetime.

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.