Happy Holiday season to everyone in our racquetball community! I appreciate the positive feedback to last month’s inaugural edition of “Diving In with Doctor Giljum.” I look forward to bringing you more information to assist in warding off some of the common injuries of our great sport! This month we are focusing on another cause of ailments I see not only in racquetball players, but in many aging athletes, weekend warriors, and power walkers alike!
This month we will be tackling Plantar Fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis). The plantar fascia is a fibrous band running from the undersurface of your heel to the ball of your foot. “Plantar Fasciitis” is a painful irritation of this tissue caused by chronic overstretching and mild tearing that is commonly associated with fallen arches of the foot. To understand how this works, cup your hand to make a “C” shape, and imagine a band running from fingertips to wrist. This is your plantar fascia, and when you straighten your fingers out, you simulate a fallen arch and subsequently the stretching of the fascia that can begin to tear away from your heel.
Common causes of this condition are being overweight, standing for long periods, or participating in endurance sports (like racquetball). Shoes without adequate arch support (e.g., sandals, or barefoot) can increase your chances of developing plantar fasciitis, as can wearing high heels or boots.
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain in the heel or arch when standing up after a period of inactivity––particularly first thing in the morning––after your arch is in a relaxed or shortened state. The condition may progress to the point that you experience pain even while resting. You may notice some tenderness when you touch your heel, and you likely have tight calf and hamstring muscles as well. The pain is usually worse after exercise, not during it.
Plantar Fasciitis can be a frustrating condition, often lasting 18 months or more if left untreated. One of the most important things you can do is to make sure you are wearing shoes with good arch supports consistently. A period of rest may be necessary to help recovery. Runners or racquetball players may need to switch to less stressful activities such as swimming, cycling, or an elliptical for a time. A splint or Strassburg sock worn at night will help keep your plantar fascia in a stretched position while it is healing.
The following exercises, when performed properly, can assist in your recovery from Plantar Fasciitis and help minimize future problems. These exercises should be performed slowly and within a relatively comfortable range. Maintain good posture and breathe naturally. Do not hold your breath. Stop any exercises that cause pain or radiating symptoms. Make sure to rest between repetitions.
- Racquetball Plantar Fascia Stretch – While seated, roll your foot back and forth over a racquetball on the floor. You can substitute a frozen water bottle, golf ball, lacrosse ball, or other round object.
- Standing Calf Stretch – Stand with the ball of your feet on the edge of a step, using a handrail for stability. Slowly lower your heels until you feel a stretch in your calves, and gradually increase this stretch over a period of one minute. For a more intense stretch, perform activity on one foot.
- Plantar Fascia Stretch – Sit in a figure-4 position and pull your big toe back for 10 seconds. Apply a firm massage pressure while stretching from your toe to your heel.
- Vele’s – Stand near a wall for stability with your feet shoulder width apart. Keeping your body straight, bend at the ankles to shift your weight forward onto your toes until your heels are about to lift off the floor. Return to the start position.
I hope you found this information helpful! For more information on how to take control of your health, follow me on all social media @giljumchiro.
This article is for informational purposes only. This information does not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have questions regarding your condition or are experiencing pain, always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health professional. Developments in medical research may impact this information. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.