As a medical massage practitioner, I provide deep tissue bodywork for muscular and structural realignment therapies. I work directly with podiatrists, physical therapists and rehab centers to assist their patients to achieve goals for agility in their structure and balance in their gait.
The slow, attentive and deep tissue work I perform helps me to identify their pain path which leads me to the root of their problem. And, every time, without fail, it’s the combo psoas muscle and plantar fascia tension. If they present with low back pain, I find the plantar fascia is tight. If the client reports foot pain, 9 times out of 10, we discover a constricted psoas muscle.
Sadly, the knee takes most of the tension because it’s considered a shock absorber, but that’s for another blog!
See, old holding patterns within the core psoas muscle can be the cause of chronic knee and foot pain, yet, new foot pain can be caused by old holding patterns in the structure. So, which came first?
It’s like the “Chicken and Egg” question.
If you wish to address the root of your pain, you must first start before you cross the street… actually, before you even put on your shoes!
I’ve developed a simple technique to help my clients reduce, and in some cases, even alleviate chronic knee, foot and low-back issues.
Let’s look at this analogy…
If you are at the bottom of a mountain, and you need me to help get you to the top, which option would you choose?
- I will toss you the rope so you can pull yourself up?
- You hang on to a rope and I lift you up?
Choosing Option #1, you (the foot) are doing all the work. Me, (the psoas) is just anchoring the rope for you.
Humans Have a tendency to store stress in muscles within their midsection which is where the psoas runs through.
Stress causes tension, tension causes tightness, and a tight psoas causes a painful low back which causes a “dysfunctional gait” in the knees and feet.
If you’re psoas is tight, it is difficult for you to lift the knee, so your feet do excessive dorsiflexion and plantar flexion (where the foot must push upwards against gravity instead of being lifted up) thus utilizing “helper” muscles (quads, hams, calves plantar) for the actual job of lifting (or pushing up to lift) while your psoas just basically anchors the rope at your hip.
This pattern of walking can cause tired achy feet. It can create inflammation of the Plantar Fascia (a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes), and soreness in the center of the arch.
With OPTION #2, both you (the foot) and I (the psoas) are working together to lift you (the foot) up.
In a “functional gait” your PSOAS is the main muscle for lifting the knee.
You are able to stand and walk upright in part because the curve of your lower spine both bears and transfers the weight above it. The psoas muscle helps to create this curve, as it pulls your lumbar vertebrae both forward and down.
The psoas muscle also plays another essential role in helping you walk. When you are walking, your brain triggers your psoas muscle to move your back leg forward—initiating the alternation between the front and back leg. So each successful step you take is thanks in part to your psoas muscle.
Psoas I was saying (see what I did there), chances are pretty good, if you have a tight plantar fascia (bottom of your foot) you also have low back pain and visa Versa. One could be causing the other… it doesn’t matter, what does matter is how to stop the damn pain!!
TIGHT PLANTAR FASCIA? Let’s see if we can determine if your low back and/or knee pain is caused by a tight plantar fascia that’s creating a dysfunctional gait.
– Press on the arch of each foot (muscle on bottle of foot). Press deeply, and point and flex your foot while you press.
Make note of which side feels tightest.
PSOAS CAUSING LOW BACK PAIN?
To check for a tight psoas, one way is to isolate the movement of the psoas.
– Stand with your feet hip-width a part, make sure your toes inline with each other. Notice if one foot is slightly in front of the other, if so, line your toes up).
– Now.. raise your right heel keeping your knee straight and the ball of your foot on the floor.
– Now do the left side.
Which one feels tighter in your low back?
Is the tightness of your low back and your plantar fascia on the same side?
Do you have tightness in both sides of your low back and both feet?
If so, it is possible that your tight plantar fascia could be causing your low back and foot pain. If that’s is the case, this tip could improve your quality of life!
USE INFUSED RELEAF TO ENHANCE YOUR EFFORTS AND RELIEVE THE PAIN AND
Here are some general foot massage tips to use as a guide:
* Pay attention to parts that feel sore: Press and hold the ReLeaf in one spot for 2-3 minutes. You will feel a tingle, let the tingle happen.
* Work on sore areas for longer, with as much or as little pressure as feels comfortable.
* Avoid injuring the thumbs: use of Infused ReLeaf will help with this. Do not use so much pressure that the thumbs start to hurt. Use the strength of your weight, not muscles in thumbs, to apply pressure.
* Focus on one foot at a time.
TWIST THAT FOOT
Twists are one way to start a foot massage. Put a small amount of Infused ReLeaf in both hands and begin:
* Place the palms on either side of the foot and rub Infused ReLeaf deeply into foot
* Gently pull the right side of the foot forward while pushing the left side back
* Push the left side of the foot back while pulling the right side forward
* Repeat this twisting motion, working the hands from the ankle to the toes
The gentle twisting motion helps warm up the foot in preparation for further massage.
DEEP ARCH RUB
People can use arch rubs to massage the underside of the foot.
* Hold the top of the foot in one hand
* With the fingers of the other hand, Press Infused ReLeaf deeply into your arch and rub the length of the arch
* Do this repeatedly, from the heel to the ball of the foot until it doesn’t hurt anymore.
TOE RANGE OF MOTION
Toe bends may encourage flexibility in the foot.
* Hold the heel with one hand
* Slowly and deeply, rub the cream into the ball of your foot
* Bend all the toes on one foot back and forth at the same time with the other hand
* Repeat this movement, gently increasing pressure and flexing the toes to their full range of motion
Foot spreading may help the foot expand to its natural width. To use this foot massage technique:
* Hold each side of the foot
* Pull each side of the foot outward
* Repeat this motion, allowing the foot to spread
Heel squeezes may help relieve tension at the back of the foot. To use this technique:
* Rub Infused ReLeaf deeply into the bottom of your foot
* Press both thumbs deeply into heel
* Repeatedly press and release the back of the heel
ACHILLES DEEP RUB
Achilles massage may help relieve pressure on the Achilles tendon.
* Grasp the Achilles tendon with the other hand, between the thumb and index finger
* Use a slow deep stroking motion down toward the heel
* Feel for any tightness and rub slowly and deeply until the sore tight feeling goes away
* Repeat this several times
Keeping the bottom of your feet tension free helps to keep tension from building up. Crap runs uphill so they say.