To Fix Sports Injuries You Have To Understand Them And Plantar Fasciitis Is A Great Example

“No Consensus on a Common Cause [plantar fasciitis] of Foot Pain”

Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times, Health/Science.

“Short cuts make long delays.”

Pippen, character in the book, Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkein.

“Fascia, like posture, is dynamic.”

Rebecca Amis Lawson, FitOldDog’s Dance and Continuum Instructor.

Hi folks! Thanks for stopping by!


From an article in the New York Times (click figure for link), reporting the “continuing mystery of plantar fasciitis.”

As an aging Ironman distance triathlete, I spend as much time working to prevent injuries as I do training, and I train a lot. My approach to sports injuries is to study them, in order to understand and prevent them before I have to fix them. Prevention is far better than cure, and running is rife with the potential for damage to your body, whether you are an elite athlete or a couch potato attempting to arise from the couch. How effectively you relate to your body, and its self-propelled journeys across the surface of this planet, will depend upon how well you understand both your internal (body and mind awareness) and external (observational skills) environments.

I Appreciated The Doctor’s Diagnosis, But Didn’t Take His Medicine:

Valium no thanks

I preferred rest, meditation and a vacation, as drugs hide symptoms, which are often warning signs of something worse to come if you don’t change your behavior.

Many people in the USA, it would seem, want an external agent, doctor or pill, to fix their problems, and they want them to fix things now, and as conveniently as possible. For a minor headache due to sinusitis, this might just work, but take temporomandibular (jaw) joint (TMJ) pain, for instance, it’s a whole ‘nother beast. I suffered from this painful condition about 15 years ago, and thinking it was swimmer’s ear I went to the doctor for some antibiotics. He (a nice young guy) looked in my ear and said, “It’s not your ear, Kevin, it’s TMJ. Are you stressed about something, grinding your jaws at night?” He simultaneously started writing prescriptions for Valium and a strong anti-inflammatory drug. I said, “No thanks, I’ll take a weeks vacation and both meditate and sleep a little more. This is a warning that my life is out of control.” The doctor looked puzzled, and insisted on handing me his prescriptions, which I later tore up and threw away. Within two weeks, following my own treatment plan, my TMJ pain was gone – I was body and mind aware enough to know warning signs. Sure, the drugs would have helped me continue my stressful lifestyle and later take me towards a heart attack. Listen to those warning signals! Your life may depend upon it!

If you think TMJ is bad, try plantar fasciitis.

Plantar = [adjective] of or pertaining to the sole of the foot.

Fasciitis = inflammation of fascia. 

Plantar fasciitis = inflammation of the fascia of the sole of the foot – guess that clears everything up [not!]

Book by Tom Myers Anatomy Trains goodreads

What a great book and videos – a must for anyone interested in sports injury and repair – you’ll never think about stretching, rollers or massage in the same way ever again, or plantar fasciitis for that matter. Click on figure for link.

If you want to fix your plantar fasciitis there are a number of things you need to understand, including foot anatomy, the relationship of the foot to the rest of the body, mechanically, and the nature of fascia. As a pathologist, I often encountered fascia (largely loose connective tissue), a stringy, wet, slimy material that holds the body together. In fact, getting past the fascia to dissect small nerves and blood vessels is one of the major challenges of the study of Anatomy. Fascia was just something that got in the way, so it was treated that way, and thus its complex biology was largely ignored until recently. No fascia, no you! Fascia holds your skin to your body, your muscles together, your muscles and tendons to the bones, and many other things, essentially ‘sculpting’ your body, whilst permiting all these bits and pieces to slide over each other as needed. Fascia is visco-elastic (you’ll have to look that up under non-Newtonian fluids, but basically it means it responds to shear stress, local forces, being a gel or solid under low stress (holding things together) and a liquid under high stress (letting things slide across each other). That’s it for my tutorial, and if you want to know more, start by reading the great book in the image associated with this text.

Take home message: fascia is dynamic, visco-elastic, thus responding to load, being either solid or liquid as needed, and it is connected, especially when more solid in nature, to the fascia all over your body, and thus to everything, including your eyeballs.

Here is an example of fascial connectedness from my personal experience: I used to have nagging plantar fasciitis on my medial (near midline) heel, which I tracked down to a tight lateral (away from midline) calf muscle, which I tracked down to an excessively tight medial hamstring. If I feel that pull on my heel after a hard run, I gently stretch the medial hamstring (long way away, right), and the discomfort dissolves like magic.

Now, you have to find the trick that works for you, whether you’re a runner, basketball player, or you just have plantar fasciitis and you’re a couch potato (yep, that happens!).

Plantar fasciitis is a common problem and there are lots of recommended treatments out there, including our plantar fasciitis treatment manual and video, which are based on the study of body awareness (shameless marketing). Find what works for you, don’t mask the symptoms until you end up in surgery (ouch!), and treat this painful condition wisely with understanding.

Wishing you happy feet.

-k @FitOldDog


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.