Sports Massage Techniques for Plantar Fasciitis

February 22, 2021

The plantar fascia is a thick band of fibrous tissue located on the underside of the foot. It runs from the inside edge of the heel to the toes and provides support to the arch. Plantar fasciitis, also called the Policeman’s Heelis, a common cause of heel and foot pain that happens when the fascia is overloaded. The pain is usually worse with the first step in the morning and improves when toes are flexed down. The risk factors to developing this condition include flat feet, tight calf muscles, or a recent increase in your activity level.

How Can Sports Massage Help?

As plantar fasciitis progresses, the pain may become persistent, particularly around the sole and heel. This can interfere with exercise, training, sports performance, and even with general daily mobility. Some plantar fasciitis treatment options are invasive and may require surgery. But in many cases, it can be avoided by integrating massage techniques into treatment plans. Sports massage is a widely-used helpful method for plantar fasciitis pain management and has been shown to reduce the symptoms.

The pain associated with plantar fasciitis is believed to be caused by the shortening and stiffening of the plantar fascia. As the scar tissue hardens, the fascia becomes impaired and pulls on the ‘calcaneus’ or heel bone insertion points, causing pain. Foot physiotherapy and massage are effective treatment options since they break down the scar tissue on the fascia. This improves blood flow and lymphatic circulation and enhances the absorption of oxygen and reparative nutrients to the area.

What to Expect with Sports Massage?

The first step involves evaluation by a physiotherapist or sports medicine physician. You will undergo a physical exam and discuss the complete history of the symptoms. The health provider will likely observe how you walk, whether you have a flat or a high arch, the flexibility of your calf muscles, and what movements would increase your pain. An ultrasound machine is usually used to look at the plantar fascia for signs of tearing or thickening. X-rays are sometimes ordered if there is a concern for a stress fracture.

With athletes, sports massage and physiotherapy for foot pain are almost always recommended. A massage therapy treatment plan is implemented based on patient-specific assessment findings and pain tolerance. Therapists not only provide hands-on massage but also self-management programs to help patients manage their symptoms at home. Stretching, foot taping, and use of foot orthotics are also part of the approach for people with plantar fasciitis.

The following sports massage techniques are commonly used for plantar fasciitis:

  • Soft Tissue Release (STR) – used to restore normal flexibility to a muscle, especially muscles that have become very tensed and shortened. It involves active or passive stretching of tissues and muscles using precise pressure.
  • Neuromuscular Technique – soft tissue manipulation that uses digital pressure and friction to release areas of strain in a muscle. It targets trigger points that tend to cause ongoing muscular pain and tension, to provide foot and ankle pain relief.
  • Positional Release – a specialized technique used to treat muscle spasm and chronic pain in the ligaments, tendons, and joints through precise manipulation. It can be effective in relaxing hyperactive muscles to achieve the most optimal level of comfort possible.
  • Fascial Release – a therapist applies gentle deep, slow kneading to restricted fascia in order to release the connective tissues around the muscles. This helps alleviate pain and restore normal muscle function.

Plantar fasciitis is a common and painful condition for both athletes and non-athletes. It mostly occurs in people who run and stand a lot. Massage and stretching can help prevent this condition from becoming chronic. If you’re experiencing sole and heel pain, consult a Dubai physiotherapy clinic as soon as possible. The experts at Scandinavian Physiotherapy Center DMCC can help. Book an appointment today at +971 4 551 6126.