Foot & Ankle Pain:
Make Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis, & General Ankle Pain Disappear
Foot & Ankle Pain: Let’s Get Rid of this Sh#t
Showing some love to the ankle and feet is LONG OVERDUE. Ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, heel pain, bone spurs, or foot pain has become too familiar. If you fall into any of these categories or want to remain proactive and pain-free, then keep reading. Learn how movement, lack of mobility, and poor choices throughout the day are the culprit of these issues & how easy it is to turn around. Simple stretches, lifestyle hacks, and better decisions will save you time, decrease your pain, and allow you to optimize your time so you can spend more time doing what you love.
TIP 1: Everyone Must Squat
This is a fact. I am not talking about with a bar & weights or even in a Crossfit studio or gym. Throughout the day, you will need to stand, sit, pick things up, bend over, and possibly also jump. We always think of hip and low back mobility with these movements. However, the hips/pelvis and low back movement is entirely dependent on the ability of the ankle to express the proper (or full) range of motion (ROM.) A Lamborghini is nothing without gas in the tank, and your smartphone is not that useful with a dead battery. The same is with the relation of your ankle mobility and your hip movement. Don’t believe me? Try to squat right now without moving your ankles, imagine there is a cast around both of them preventing any movement. Pretty difficult, right?
What Does This Have to do With my Ankle Pain & What Can I do About it?
Great question. It has everything to do with your back and knee pain. Call this referred pain if you want, but the lack of ankle mobility is jacking everything up. Don’t get frustrated though. This is GREAT NEWS! It means we can focus on a few stretches to increase our mobility & ROM in the ankles and fix multiple things at once! It is like petting four birds with one hand (my animal-friendly analogy.) The first thing we should look at is opening up the lateral side of the ankle. Anyone that has sprained their ankle before will feel the tightness here. This stretch alone can help eliminate ankle pain, so couple this with an achilles stretch & we are hitting home run after home run. If you have not sprained your ankle before, you might be surprised how tight the lateral side of your ankle is. From the shoes we have on throughout the day and the lack of movement our feet & ankles experience, do not be shocked by the results.
TIP 2: Open Up the Ankle
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If you do not feel this stretch in your ankle and it is easy for you to set your foot entirely on its side, GREAT! That means your ROM in your ankle is good, and we can focus more on your hips & piriformis because that is actually what this stretch was created to do. The problem for most people is that before they feel the stretch there, the pain in their lateral ankle prevents them from going any deeper. It is also a great example of how the ankle mobility can limit the movement of the hips – thus blocking/preventing the lower back movement. The advantage of the ankle is that there is not so much to stretch. A few simple moves can address the significant muscles and fascia of the entire ankle complex.
The achilles is notorious for causing plantar fasciitis and (of course) achilles tendonitis. Did you know that it is also related to knee pain, ACL injuries, hip impingement, and throwing out the low back? When the achilles is tight, it pulls your foot (or feet) into a position we nicknamed “Duck Feet.” This medial pull is due to its medial attachment on the ankle and the tension pulling your heel bone inwards as the foot rotates outwards
This inward rotation forces more of your body weight on the medial portion of your knees (since the lower leg begins to compensate and also rotate.) Not only is this very dangerous for your ACL (the most important ligament in the knee) but this can also be one of the major reasons for knee tendonitis, bone spurs, or cartilage damage. The rotation in the lower leg causes a counter rotation of the upper leg, thus forcing the patella (our knee bone) to track incorrectly. Imagine a train forced off its track. The damage would be unimaginable. The same can be said over some time for our knee. A tight achilles can easily be associated with low back, hip, knee, and ankle pain.
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Make sure to watch all four videos, I show how you can do this with the addition of a kettlebell & also a standing version. The standing version is excellent for an office setting or people that are missing the ROM in the knee or ankle to perform the stretch without pain.
TIP 3: The Simplicity of Fixing Plantar Fasciitis
Should I repeat it? This is one of the most uncomplicated injuries to fix, yet so many people are suffering from no clear direction or clue how to cure it. Look no further boys & girls, those days are long gone.
First, we need to understand what is going on mechanically & how it is essentially a “Tug of War” from hell, causing your foot & ankle pain.
The achilles tendon attaches to your heel bone, and the plantar fascia does the same (this is a simplified version of the story, so physio’s don’t go crazy.) When the achilles gets tight, it starts to pull on the heel bone. Since all shoes have a heel drop and place the heel higher than the front of the foot – losing ROM here is typical. The plantar fascia (arch of your foot on the bottom side) also gets tight and starts to pull on the same bone. This is where the “Tug of War” begins. Who do you think will win? The strong achilles that attaches into the Soleus and Calf muscle, or the smaller plantar fascia?
The plantar fascia has no chance, and the heel bone begins to rotate back due to the tension of the achilles. Since bone is the most sensitive tissue in the body and now your plantar fascia is losing the fight, it makes complete sense why that one spot on the bottom side of your foot begins to catch fire. It is the same spot that feels like it’s stuck with a knife when you get out of bed. If this is allowed to go on for too long, it is not uncommon for a bone spur to begin taking place. This is your heel bones last-ditch effort to relieve the pressure/shortness of the plantar fascia. It is creating a ladder or bridge to keep it attached. That is why it looks like a bony growth on an X-ray – because it is.
TIP 4: Insert FOOT ORGASM HERE
I wonder how that is going to calculate with Google SEO! However, a foot orgasm is what these stretches are. I have lost count how many times people laugh at the beginning and then swear by these stretches after they finish. Not only will it stretch the fascia of your foot, help eliminate this “Tug of War,” but it will leave your foot feeling AMAZING! There are five stretches in total, make sure to do all of them!
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TIP 5: The Putting it All Together Protocol
Make sure to read my previous blog on “Lower Back Pain & How to Prevent it.” There is a video about the “Squat Conundrum” that will help teach you what not to do, along with some extra stretches for your arsenal.
I suggest implementing these stretches and exercises 2-3x weekly. Start by doing all the mobility exercises for 3-5 minutes on each side, corrective exercises (as seen in the Low Back Pain blog) for two sets of 15 -20x & holding the stretches for 90-120 seconds or longer. If one side is more painful, has less ROM, or is your “problem” side – then focus on that one more or do the double amount on that side.
You are the best physio to yourself. You need the correct guidance. That is why I write this blog. Don’t be paralyzed by fear of hurting yourself or doing something wrong. You might need to do the exercises more or maybe even less. Remember, you can only change the direction of a car when it is moving. The same is true with your body. So get started, touch yourself and have a few orgasms in the process (I am dying laughing as I am writing this)
Movement is our Medicine & Education is our Therapy!
NO MEDICINE, NO PILLS, JUST TWO STRETCHES THAT EMPOWER MY BODY TO HEAL ITSELF!
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