A partial or complete surgical plantar fasciotomy can be used for the treatment of chronic plantar fasciitis. There are some fables of elite or professional athletes who self induced a rupture of their plantar fascia to treat their plantar fasciitis.
For example, in 2005 on the Melbourne (Australia) edition of The Footy Show, AFL footballer Robert Harvey apparently described how he jumped off a table onto his plantar fascia to try to rupture it. A 2005 report in the Melbourne newspaper, The Age, at the time reported this (the story is no longer available at The Age):
Harvey floor banger: don’t try this at home
Do-it-yourself treatment carries a not-recommended tag. Peter Brukner reports.
Robert Harvey’s rather drastic action to “cure” his plantar fascia problem, described so graphically on Thursday’s Footy Show, was not so crazy as it sounded…In those athletes who fail to respond to this treatment program, surgery might be performed to “release” the tendon and reduce the tension…It seems that Harvey had a part tear in the middle of his plantar fascia and performed his own “release” and created a full tear. While there is some initial pain and swelling associated with the tear, the tension is released and the pain significantly reduced … While it might have worked in Harvey’s case, I would not recommend everyone with a sore heel jumping off chairs to solve the problem.
Driven to despair by a partial tear in his plantar fascia — the tissue that runs from the heel bone along the foot to attach under the arch — Harvey famously jumped repeatedly off his kitchen table to fully rupture the band in order to allow it to heal and him to return to the field. While hardly scientific, it proved an effective remedy and perhaps an inspiration for star Eagle Josh Kennedy in his own battle with the problem this pre-season
“We have been monitoring it very closely and the point where he tore the plantar fascia three weeks ago was a bit of relief because it was lingering and rest hadn’t really done the job,” he said.
The 24-year-old first experienced pain in his foot before Christmas and after consulting West Coast medical staff spent a fortnight resting it . . . and then another. As the pain persisted, frustration mounted, hence West Coast’s version of the Harvey trick, as Kennedy explained yesterday.
“I had heard the stories (about Harvey), so I was looking for anything to do,” he said.
“We got to the point where it wasn’t getting any better, so we decided to give the running a go up on deck (at Subiaco), so we jabbed it up, numbed it up.
“I did a running session and halfway through it ended up going. We were doing 150m sprints, three by 10, and I think I got to the last set and was halfway through . . . and it just went. Lucky the jab was in so that it was a bit numb but I had done the other one before and knew that once it was torn, it kind of loosens it up a bit.”
More recently, sports medicine physician, Dr Peter Larkins was quoted as saying in a newspaper report:
Larkins also said it was a “myth” a complete rupture enabled a quicker recovery.
Former St Kilda champion Robert Harvey famously jumped off a table to snap his completely while West Coast’s Josh Kennedy numbed his foot with painkillers and then ran until it broke in 2012.
“If you rupture something, you often get really bad bruising and swelling so it’s pretty sore,” Larkins said.
“It’s a bit of a myth to say you jump off the kitchen bench and rupture it Robert Harvey-style.
“Fraser Gehrig had enormous amounts of trouble, Brad Ottens had lots of trouble … I think it’s a myth a complete rupture means you’ll be better faster.
“If you do rupture it, it means once the pain goes away, you won’t have trouble with it. If you half rupture it, it’s worse in the sense that you’ve now got a half ligament that gets sore because it’s working too hard in the future.
“That’s the only upside of a complete rupture – once it’s ruptured and the pain goes away, you can’t rupture it any more.”
Healing Following a Complete Rupture of the Plantar Fascia:
Saxena & Fullem (2004; ref) reported that the mean return to activity following a plantar fascia in athletes was 9.1 ± 6.0 weeks (range: 2 to 26 weeks). They were treated for 2 to 3 weeks with a below-knee or high-top boot, nonweightbearing, with an additional 2 to 3 weeks of weightbearing in the boot along with physical therapy. The mean age of the 18 athletes was 40.9 ± 13.2 years. After treatment, none of the them had a re-rupture or any postinjury sequelae, or needed surgery, contrary to some other studies.
- A number of sports podiatrists in Melbourne comment that they have patients that come in and ask about the ‘Harvey Floor Banger’ or something similar for the management of their plantar fasciitis due to the legend surrounding what Robert Harvey did
Robert Harvey’s Wikipedia page
Deliberate rupture of plantar fasica to treat plantar fasciitis (Podiatry Arena)
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