If you are dealing with plantar fasciitis, your podiatrist might recommend treatments like splinting or cortisone injections. They might also recommend that you manage the condition with massage therapy. There are many massage modalities out there that you can try, such as deep tissue. Compared to a Swedish massage, which is mainly used for relaxation and incorporates light-to-firm pressure, deep tissue massage focuses on releasing deep tension found in connective tissues and muscles. Here are three ways deep tissue massage can help people with plantar fasciitis.
It Improves Circulation
The Journal of Foot and Ankle Research found that narrow toe boxes in shoes can actually restrict blood flow to the lateral plantar artery, a vessel that runs through the calcaneus (heel bone). The journal found that in cases of plantar fasciitis, decreased blood supply prevented full recovery and accounted for a 46% recurrence rate. The manual pressure from a deep tissue massage can warm muscles and encourage blood through congested areas. Proper circulation can bring oxygen-rich blood to irritated tissues and encourage healing. Besides improving blood circulation, deep tissue massage can improve lymph circulation and help flush metabolic waste.
It Restores Range of Motion
Trigger points are hyperirritable bands of soft tissue, and they are sometimes called knots or adhesions. Trigger points restrict your range of motion (ROM). Plantar fascia trigger points can be found in the arch of the foot as well as in the calf muscles. If the plantar fascia is tight, it can tug the heel bone forward, thus creating more tension in the calf's two main muscles: the soleus and gastrocnemius.
During a deep tissue massage, your therapist may focus on breaking up trigger points by applying static pressure until the soft tissue relaxes. Your therapist might use their elbows or forearms to exert deeper pressure into any trigger points in the legs and feet. One study found that trigger point releases, and other massage modalities, help to decrease functional impairments in patients with plantar fasciitis
It Reduces Pain
Besides restricting ROM, trigger points can cause pain and irritate surrounding nerves, which can cause burning or tingling sensations in the foot. Manual strokes from a deep tissue massage can break up trigger points to relieve any nerve compression. Deep tissue massage is also helpful in reducing pain since this manual therapy reduces inflammation and the stress hormone cortisol. Deep tissue massage techniques encourage the body to secrete endorphins, which are hormones that have an analgesic effect.
Reach out to a massage therapist today to learn more about deep tissue massage and other therapies that could help manage your plantar fasciitis.