Calf + foot pain can stop you in your tracks – here’s how to get moving again

Whether you’re an avid athlete or simply enjoy exploring your community on foot, you’ve likely experienced calf, foot or toe pain from time to time.

“There’s a whole constellation of problems that can happen in this area,” says therapist Neal O’Neal, owner of Pursuit Physical Therapy in Renton and Redmond. “There’s hammer or claw toe, bunions and Morton’s neuroma just to name a few.”

Other painful and debilitating conditions include plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis and Tarsal tunnel syndrome, which can cause pain, tingling or numbness in the foot.

“Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the posterior tibial nerve as it travels through the tarsal tunnel, located on the inside of the ankle” says O’Neal. “These problems are chronic and can basically stop you in your tracks – whether it’s running, skiing or other forms of exercise.”

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain, involving inflammation of a band of tissue running across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the toes (plantar fascia).

“Plantar fasciitis can occur from over-use or when a runner steps on a rock,” O’Neal says. “Your calf has a really long tendon, and when it tightens, the plantar fascia takes the load.”

Plantar fasciitis causes stabbing pain that usually occurs with first steps taken in the morning. The pain normally decreases with movement, but might return after long periods of standing or when standing up after sitting.

“This condition is treated by getting the calf muscle to release, with acupressure or trigger point therapy, by sitting on a ball to press down on the calf,” O’Neal says. “The ball is used because this muscle is very strong, so you couldn’t do it with your hands.”

Achilles tendinitis is an injury of the Achilles tendon, the band of tissue that connects calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to your heel bone.

“This condition arises from over-use, and postural adaptation – when the ankle is stuck in a bad position and the structure operates in a limited range of motion, causing inflammation,” O’Neal says. “The heel bone is stuck in inversion, so we need to get it moving in relation to the rest of the foot, with various stretches.”

The team at Pursuit Physical Therapy can help you get back to doing what you love, with treatments that apply an understanding of the interaction between structure and function.

For information call 425-520-4222 or email rentonfrontdesk@pursuitpt.com.

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