Recently, I’ve spent some time with Cassidy Phillips, the owner of Trigger Point, a company that produces self-soft tissue regeneration tools and education products to help make your training more beneficial in the long run by reducing injury potential. Their tools take traditional foam rolling to another level with tools that offer a bit more specificity.
One idea that I’ve picked up in our conversations is the concept of the foot being a puppet of the extrinsic muscles of the lower leg. Much of the time, pain in areas like the plantar fascia is not only due to an issue at the fascia itself, but rather higher up. Pain site versus pain source. In looking at it from an Anatomy Trains perspective, it makes good sense. The plantar fasica is directly linked to the Achilles Tendon and Gastrocnemius via the superficial backline fascia. In a recent conversation I had with Virginia based physical therapist, Mike Davis, he noted that just because someone has pain on the plantar surface it is not necessarily plantar fasciitis at work but often just restrictions in the triceps surae. If the tone of the muscles of the posterior compartment of the lower leg is excessively high, it will simply place too much stress on the soft-tissues of the plantar surface and create pain. Thus the triceps surae is the puppeteer responsible for the puppet that is the foot.
So what must we do? We need to reduce tone of the triceps surae and begin to restore proper ankle and foot function with targeted soft-tissue, mobility, and strengthening work. You can shake a great deal free with a Trigger Point ball, barefooted warm-ups, and improving saggital range of motion at the ankle. Here is one of my favorite exercises for improving ankle range of motion while getting a good strengthening effect as well.
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