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H2O- Health 2 Others Newsletter



Plantar Fasciitis

            “Why Am I So Tight?”-  Part 1


Plantar Fasciitis

By Lora Russell

 What is Plantar Fasciitis?

It is classified as “pain and inflammation of the plantar fascia”.  Plantar Fascia is a very tough, fibourous sheet or flat extended tendon located deep on the bottom of the foot (the plantar surface- where you “plant” your foot to step) extending from the heel to the base of each toe.  With each step, it absorbs the shock and serves as the bowstring holding up the arch.  This bowstring assignment minimizes the impact on the arch during weight bearing activities.

Strain can be put on the Plantar Fascia from having a high arch, no arch at all, or having muscles in the calf tighten pulling the ankle into either eversion (bottom of the foot is pulled up at the outside edge) or inversion (bottom of the foot is pulled up at the inside edge).  As the Plantar Fascia is also a tendon, tendonitis, inflammation of the sheath around the tendon can also be a cause of pain.  Bone Spurs can be created by chronic inflammation of an injured fascia.

How do I know if I have it?

Symptoms of a chronic condition of Plantar Fasciitis follow a distinctive pattern of acutely painful first steps in the morning where the pain subsides during the day but becomes painful again with prolonged standing, walking or running.  Acute symptoms may include a sharp bruised feeling just inside the heel or deep in the arch, the pain is usually worse with the push off phase of walking.

Is there anything I can do at home to care for my poor foot with Plantar Fasciitis?

Of course there is! 

  • Rest is the best medicine for this, at the very least minimize weight-bearing activity as much as possible to give the tissue time to heal.
  •  Remove all tension from the foot BEFORE the 1st step out of bed in the morning- massage it, wake it up, give it a good rub down before you step on it. 
  • Use arch supports or heel cups in ALL shoes. 
  • ICE, ICE, ICE- plantar fasciitis is an inflammatory condition the ice will help break up the inflammation.  Try an ice water bath- put ice into a bucket of water and dunk your foot into it, hold it under the water for about a minute or so- until you can’t stand it anymore- take the foot out and allow it to warm up naturally then dunk again.  Dunk for 3-4 times, 2-3 times per day for moderate causes, 1 time per day may be enough for mild symptoms or as a preventative.
  • Take regular breaks throughout the day- if you sit for long periods of time, try walking for at least a few minutes every hour- preferably not in heels- if your job entails standing for long periods, try sitting for a few minutes every hour.
  • Self massage- gently roll you’re the bottom of your foot over a tennis ball, golf ball or other sturdy round object from heel to toes (caution: do not use this if condition has just started, likely there is too much inflammation in the tissues to effectively relax the foot enough to get any relief and may actually aggravate the condition).  You can soak your foot in warm water to help soften the tissues prior to rolling over your chosen object.  Leave out if bone spurs are present.
  • Stretch!  All stretches should be held for 15-30 seconds, don’t bounce or force the stretch- go to only where your body says it feels good.  Each stretch is for muscles in the back of the calf as well as the bottom of the foot- you should feel each stretch here.  And Always remember to stretch BOTH sides!  (You wouldn’t want your other foot to get jealous do you?)
    • Seated: sit comfortably with back supported- stretch out your knee and bend your ankle so your toes are pointing back towards you.
    • Standing: stand on a stair with your heels off the edge, allow gravity to bring your heels downward
    • Another standing: stand an arm’s length ways from a wall, bring the toes of the unaffected foot close to edge of a wall- keep the affected leg’s knee straight- this will bring the affected leg into a stretch.  To enhance the stretch bend the affected leg’s knee.  But be sure to keep both heels on the floor- if you cannot keep the affected heel on the floor decrease the space between that foot and the wall.
  • Strengthen the muscles in your feet: this may sound funny but it works!  Grasp things with your toes- start with a towel/sock/undies and move up to small non-flexible items such as marbles or a pen.  This exercise will help increase your foot’s ability to absorb the shock that comes from walking or running
  • Increase the flexibility and range of motion in your ankle: draw the alphabet in the air with your foot- make the letters as big as is comfortable and draw only as many letters as possible until you feel fatigue.  Add letters as your flexibility improves.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medication as prescribed by your doctor
  •  Get regular professional massage- try Reflexology for a change of pace from the ever popular but often painful deep tissue work.
Of course these are only my suggestions- please follow a doctor’s advice when dealing with all medical conditions.  All of these suggestions can be used for other foot related pain (not including Bone Spurs- unfortunately surgery may be the only thing that will tend to this cause of pain) from wearing high heels too long to too much driving.  They are wonderful ways to take care of our poor, abused, most-often-forgotten-about-until-they hurt feet.
Warner, R. A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology, 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005
Michael Versagi, C. Step-by-Step Massage Therapy Protocols for Common Conditions, Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012
Bucci, C. Condition- Specific Massage Therapy, Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & wilkins, 2012

Did you know: Banana Peels will shine leather shoes, clean silver, and when rubbed across your teeth will whiten in just 2 weeks…cool beans!



“Why Am I So Tight?”-  Part 1

By Lora Russell

Many clients ask me “Why Am I So Tight?”.  This is a very difficult question to answer for each person is very different not just in health and body type but also in how they are living this life, but I’m going to try with this 3 part series.  At least we can start to explore this topic together and perhaps something written here will help you evaluate why your muscles seem to be so tight. 

There are many reasons muscles can tighten.  We all know they can tighten from overuse, from underuse, from repetitive use.  I like to say, as I’m sure many of you have heard from me at one time or another, muscles are like very young children- they complain when they are asked to do something, they act out when they are asked to do nothing and they rebel when they are asked to do something repeatedly.  Of course in order to maintain healthy muscles we must exercise them and stretch them (many seem to forget this part) daily or at the very least on a regular basis every week.  But they can also tighten from nutritional needs, from our posture- how we carry ourselves, even from the emotions we tend to leave unexpressed.  It is these other reasons I want to explore with you.  I could spout off for pages on how, when, and why to exercise and stretch- but we have all heard that so much I don’t feel the need to add to the “noise”.

So let’s start by explore Nutritional Needs.  These may or may not be part of your specific condition.  I am by no means an expert in Nutrition.  These are only suggestions and things I have come across with my own health care.  If you suspect any of these may be part of your individual condition, please consult with your doctor or nutritional specialist.

As a very simple description of a very complex system in the body (metabolism), Muscles use the food we eat (transformed into glucose by digestion) to create a substance called ATP: Adenosine triphosphate- the energy molecule (this all happens at a cellular level).  They use this ATP to synthesize movement.  With continued activity, the production of ATP creates Pyruvic acid.  When there is not enough oxygen in the system to completely break down the pyurvic acid, most is converted to lactic acid.  The lactic acid is then diffused out of the skeletal muscles into the blood and taken to the Liver.  The Liver then converts the Lactic Acid back to glucose.  This conversion has two benefits: provides new glucose molecules to start the system all over again and helps to reduce acidity in the body. It is this extra acidity in the body that can keep muscles from fully loosening.

Think of it this way:  Lactic Acid is a waste product of our muscles moving.  It is the blood and lymph systems that flush this Lactic Acid from our muscles so the Liver can dispose of it effectively.  Now think about what might happen if we have not taking in enough water.  Our blood tends to be thicker than when we are adequately hydrated.    Therefore, it is not able to find its way around each cell enough to completely flush out this Lactic Acid.  Now Lactic Acid is what its name implies.  It is an acid.  So that which does not fully flush is stuck between our muscle fibers doing what acid does- breaking things down.  Hence the pain.  Please keep in mind this is just one woman’s understanding of a very complex system.  But it does make you go “hmmm- perhaps I need to drink more water”- which is one thing I wish for each of you to consider.

But perhaps you already drink your weight divided in half in ounces of water each day (yes, this is what some experts have determined to be the adequate amount of water to consume per day- and I like it because it relates to each person’s body type not just a blanket 8-8oz glass per day).  Perhaps you are adequately hydrated.  Perhaps it’s not that your body cannot get the Lactic Acid to the liver for assimilation but more about how much acid is in your body already. 

Acidosis is the tendency for the body to be overacid.  This is caused when the body loses its alkaline reserve.  There are many conditions that can cause one to have acidosis- people with diabetes often suffer from acidosis and stomach ulcers, gout and yeast infections are extreme cases.  But often many of us are only slightly acidic because of the food we are eating.  Alcohol, meat, coffee, eggs, fish, milk, poultry, sugar, soft drinks, tea, pasta, oatmeal, chickpeas, asparagus, processed junk foods are all acid forming foods to name just a few.  Citrus fruits, who contain citric acid, might seem to have an acidic effect on the body but they actually have an alkaline effect- although sugar added to any fruit will cause it to become acidic.  Sugar is one of the biggest culprits of creating excess acid in the body.

So what can you do if your body tends to run more acidic?  Well, collect information on all the acid-forming foods and try to avoid them as much as possible- at least until you  can get your pH balance back.  Take more Probiotics.  Eat 50% raw foods such as apples, avocados, bananas, grapes, pineapples and all vegetables.  Be careful with your Vit C intake- excess Vit C can increase acidosis- so cut back for a few week or use the non-acid forming varieties such as sago palm.  Take Wheat Grass- either as a juice, powder or pill form.  Drink Potato Broth daily (high in potassium):

            Potato Peeling Broth

            3 potatoes, cut in half (be sure to only use potatoes that do not have a green tint- the chemical solomine is created by light giving them the green tint- solomine can interfere with nerve impulses and cause diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain)

            1 carrot, sliced

            1 celery stock, sliced

            onion or garlic to taste

  1. scrub potatoes well and cut out the eyes
  2. cut the peel from the potato making sure to keep ½ inch of potato with the peel- discard the potato center- or make into mashed as I would for a later meal.
  3. place potato peels, carrots, celery slices into a pot and cover with water- boil for about ½ hour adding the onion or garlic to taste
  4. cool and strain. Serve.

*recipe from “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” by James Balch MD and Phyllis Balch CNC

Muscle cramps can also be caused by a calcium and magnesium imbalance or Vit E deficiency.  Use herbs such as dong quai, elderberry, ginkgo biloba, horsetail grass, saffron and chaparral, to name a few- check with your local herbalist for details on how and how much of each of these to ingest (btw- Melanie is currently an Herbal Apprentice- check out her article on herbs in our next newsletter).  Eat alfalfa, brewer’s yeast, kelp, plenty of chlorophyll and of course green leafy vegetables!  Another benefit of Wheat Grass- not only does it help with excess acid but also with this as well!
And of course- MASSAGE the muscles, using heat to relieve the pain and increase circulation.
My goodness, I didn’t expect to go on so- but there is a lot to cover and this is only the tip of the ice burg when it comes to how nutrition can effect how our muscles function and relax.  In Part 2, we will discuss how our emotions and traumas can get trapped in our muscle tissue.  Stay tuned…
Tortora, G. Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, 9th ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2000
Balch, J and P. Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Avery Publishing Group Inc, 1990
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