Focus on Feet

Myofascial Release Self Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

In our practice, we work on "pressure points" by using the fascial system as a reference.  The technique I use is called myofascial release therapy and it works by gentle, sustained pressure on areas of restrictions.  One example I use frequently with clients is to think of your body as a three dimensional, interconnected web, like the fabric of a sweater. The fascia is the "packing material” which surrounds every muscle, nerve and organ.  Fascia can become restricted, just as the fabric of our hypothetical sweater can become knotted, placing undo pressure on pain-sensitive structures.  These "pressure points" can be areas of restriction caused by the fascial system.  Interestingly, one might feel the symptom in their feet, although it may be a result of a restriction elsewhere in the body (a pull in the calf, pelvis, hip or even shoulder or neck).  The feet are a very important area to pay attention to as they bear the weight of the entire body.  Restrictions in the feet can make the rest of the body react and adjust stance and movement, throwing the body out of alignment.


Self-treatment is something which I encourage all my clients to do.  As part of a maintenance program, it can help ease these restrictions on a long- term basis.  The myofascial release approach for self-treatment involves gentle prolonged pressure for at least 3-5 minutes in order to reach the fascial barrier and create change in length.  Stretches held for shorter periods of time are ineffective simply because they don't reach he fascial barrier.  As a result, the restricted area goes back to its shortened length, like a rubber band snapping back after being pulled.  


For self -treatment for symptoms in the feet you can use a golf ball, a tennis ball, a small knobby ball, or a tool called a nolarola (  Of course, people can be creative and find something in which they feel they can sink their feet. You can sit on the couch or any comfortable surface and let gravity help your feet mold into whatever device you choose.  Once you find a pressure spot you let your feet 'melt' and 'soften' into that spot for the 3-5 minutes.  You don't want to roll the device all around the bottom of your foot because you are simply gliding along the surface and not creating any softening or length changes.  


Another effective self-treatment strategy is to sit on the floor or bed with your back up to the wall with your legs straight out in front of you.  Place a tennis ball, golf ball or knobby ball under your calf and search for those pressure spots.  Once you find one, feel your leg sink into that spot for the 3-5 minutes (or as long as you can tolerate).  It is important to relax your body as much as possible and breathe as you do this to encourage softening and change.  You should feel the sensation start to change during this time and you may feel sensations in other areas of the body. That is not uncommon as the fascial system is connected, as previously mentioned, like a spider web or sweater from head to toe.  

Have fun, explore and discover the changes you can make in your body.  It is simple, safe and effective.

Rachel Gottesman, OTR/L