Plantar Fasciitis in Crossfit Athletes

With the wide variety of movements involved in Crossfit, the fascia on the bottom of the foot is exposed a range of load. As a result, the plantar fascia can become irritated leading to pain on the bottom of the foot. 

Cause of Plantar Fasciitis 

Plantar fasciitis is caused by overloading of the fascia on the bottom of the foot. The fascia transmits force generated from the leg to the foot and vice versa. When the plantar fascia becomes overloaded, it causes irritation on the inside portion of the heel.  

Treating Plantar Fasciitis

As with all overload conditions, it is important to reduce the load on the plantar fascia to decrease the pain. This doesn't mean you have to sit in bed all day because of the pain. Temporarily avoiding running and jumping will help to reduce the load on the plantar fascia. Also limiting the total amount of walking can be beneficial (still walk, but try to talk more breaks). 

For home pain relief, using a golf ball to lightly massage the plantar fascia can help decrease the pain. Since the first couple of steps are usually the most painful, performing self myofascial work on the plantar fascia before getting up can help loosen up the tissues before walking around. The golf ball can also be put in the freezer to numb the foot as well. 

Manual therapy, such as Graston or pin and stretch, are effective treatments used in the clinic to help decrease the pain of plantar fasciitis. Both therapies work by stimulating the receptors in the foot which decrease the danger signals to the brain. It used to be thought that scar tissue or fascial adhesions were being broken down, however, the plantar fascia is an incredibly robust piece of tissue. 

Once the plantar fascial pain is under control, increasing the tolerance of the plantar fascia to load is the next step. This can be performed with a progressive exercise program, typically involving heel raises, to strengthen the plantar fascia.