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Plantar Fascia Tears

Foot Pain

Tearing the plantar fascia is not a common injury, but it is not an uncommon injury, either.  These typically occur with forceful movements through the leg, such as jumping or running.  Many times, there are precipitating factors that are ignored, but not always.

The plantar fascia is part of what is called the Superficial Back Line (Anatomy Trains; Thomas Myers).  What this means is the plantar fascia, Achilles, gastrocnemius (the larger calf muscle), hamstrings, and musucles along your back are all connected.  Tightness in any of those muscles can cause pain anywhere else along the Line because of the pulling that occurs.

So what this means is if you have tight hamstrings from sitting or tight calves from a recent workout you did, it can put an abnormal pull on the plantar fascia.  Under normal conditions of normal walking and daily tasks it survives just fine.  But, when you start introducing force through it, especially eccentrically (landing from the jump), the tight muscle cannot elongate as necessary, resulting in a tear of the plantar fascia (non-contractile tissue).

Luckily, plantar fascia tears do not require surgery.  With proper taping to support the area temporarily, exercises to strengthen the muscles of the foot, soft tissue work to keep down scar tissue, and avoiding forceful movements temporarily, the area typically recovers well.

So how do you prevent these?  Making sure your calves and hamstrings are prepared any time you are going to be doing jump rope, box jumps, or running, and especially if you feel tight already.  This should be done with dynamic stretching/movements to warm up the area rather than static holds.  It may also benefit you to use a foam roller or “the stick” prior to your workout to assist with loosening up the fascial and muscle layers as well as stimulate the nervous system for action.

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