Massage Therapy for Foot and Ankle Pain
Whether from plantar fasciitis, an ankle sprain, another injury, or a job that requires prolonged standing, all Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) are likely to treat many people suffering from foot or ankle pain. Chronic foot or ankle pain can make it difficult to walk, to stand for very long, or enjoy many of your daily activities. Foot or ankle pain can have a significant negative impact on quality of life. There are a variety of ways that RMTs can help their patients with foot or ankle pain manage their pain and improve their function.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common cause of heel pain in adults and it can significantly limit physical activity and negatively affect quality of life. Cross friction massage of the plantar fascia either alone or combined with other manual therapy techniques and targeted exercises can help people with plantar fasciitis increase their plantar flexion, improve their range of motion and decrease their pain. A variety of soft-tissue manual therapy techniques can help people with plantar fasciitis improve their foot and ankle function, which can have a significant impact on their ability to participate in the activities they love.
RMTs can also recommend remedial exercises to their patients with plantar fasciitis to help them manage their pain. Exercises focusing on the intrinsic foot muscles can help strengthen this area, which helps with foot stability and flexibility for shock absorption. A home-based exercise program including exercises focusing on the gastrocnemius, soleus, and plantar fascia can help people with plantar fasciitis reduce their pain and improve their function.
Lateral ankle sprains are the most common type of sports injury and unfortunately many people with ankle sprains don’t seek adequate treatment from a health professional. Without adequate treatment, these individuals can develop chronic ankle instability. People with chronic ankle instability who received manual therapy interventions like plantar massage, ankle mobilizations or recommended calf stretches reported that they increased their range of motion and improved their ankle function.
Plantar massage and calf stretching can also help people with chronic ankle instability to be better able to complete their regular daily activities without pain. Calf massage can also help healthy people increase the flexibility of their ankle joint and improve their balance. There can also be some improvement in ankle flexibility after massage applied to the plantar flexors.
Massage Therapy Can Help
People with ankle sprains who don’t access necessary treatment are at risk of re-injury. Although plantar heel pain is common, many people also don’t seek adequate treatment for this condition. Massage therapy can help people with many types of foot and ankle pain reduce their pain, increase their flexibility and continue doing the things they love. Foot and ankle pain can be very disruptive to quality of life and stop people from fully participating in their life, but it doesn’t have to be. Ask your RMT how they can help you relieve your foot and ankle pain.
Boonchum, H., Bovonsunthonchai, S., Sinsurin, K., & Kunanusornchai, W. (2020). Effect of a home-based stretching exercise on multi-segmental foot motion and clinical outcomes in patients with plantar fasciitis. Journal of musculoskeletal & neuronal interactions, 20(3), 411–420.
Fraser, J. J., Corbett, R., Donner, C., & Hertel, J. (2018). Does manual therapy improve pain and function in patients with plantar fasciitis? A systematic review. The Journal of manual & manipulative therapy, 26(2), 55–65.
McKechnie, G. J., Young, W. B., & Behm, D. G. (2007). Acute effects of two massage techniques on ankle joint flexibility and power of the plantar flexors. Journal of sports science & medicine, 6(4), 498–504.
McKeon PO, Hertel J, Bramble D, Davis I. The foot core system: a new paradigm for understanding intrinsic foot muscle function. Br J Sports Med. 2015 Mar;49(5):290.
McKeon, P. O., & Wikstrom, E. A. (2016). Sensory-Targeted Ankle Rehabilitation Strategies for Chronic Ankle Instability. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 48(5), 776–784.
Park, J., Shim, J., Kim, S., Namgung, S., Ku, I., Cho, M., Lee, H., & Roh, H. (2017). Application of massage for ankle joint flexibility and balance. Journal of physical therapy science, 29(5), 789–792.
Wikstrom, E. A., & McKeon, P. O. (2017). Predicting Manual Therapy Treatment Success in Patients With Chronic Ankle Instability: Improving Self-Reported Function. Journal of athletic training, 52(4), 325–331.
Yelverton, C., Rama, S., & Zipfel, B. (2019). Manual therapy interventions in the treatment of plantar fasciitis: A comparison of three approaches. Health SA = SA Gesondheid, 24, 1244.