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Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Noah, Gibson face 'lingering issue' in plantar fasciitis

By NICK FRIEDELL

Joakim Noah didn't even know what the procedure was called.

He wasn't sure exactly what the Bulls medical staff had done to him.

All he knew was that somebody had taken some blood out of his arm and put it into his foot and now he was wearing a black boot around his left leg.
Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah has been suffering from plantar fasciitis for most of the 2010 season.

As the Sun-Times pointed out, the procedure that Noah endured last Friday morning is actually called platelet-rich plasma therapy, or PRP, and is being used by athletes more and more over the last few years.

Having said that, there are still plenty of people within the medical field who have never even heard of the therapy, including Chicago-based physical therapist David Reavy. Reavy, who has spent several years putting NBA players' bodies back together as part of renowned trainer Tim Grover's ATTACK Athletics team wasn't familiar with the process when we discussed it during a Tuesday morning phone conversation.

However, he was well-versed when it came to discussing plantar fasciitis. He said that it's the most common injury basketball players deal with on a yearly basis, alongside knee problems.

But why has plantar fasciitis reared its ugly head this season with such prevalence, affecting Noah, Bulls rookie Taj Gibson and so many other players in the NBA?

"They're on the balls of their feet all the time, so they're always using that muscle," Reavy said. "Once they overuse that muscle, scar tissue forms. Adhesions form. Once you can't get that adhesion up then you start developing pain. You develop tightness before pain, so their feet are probably feeling stiff in the morning when they get out of bed."

That's for sure. Both Noah and Gibson have mentioned how difficult it has been for them to get up and walk in the morning. Over the past few weeks, Noah has appeared to be in tremendous pain walking to the bus after games.

"In the medical world, it's very hard to treat," Reavy said. "It's a very lingering issue."

Like any good therapist, Reavy is confident in his abilities. He believes he would only need a few sessions with Noah and Gibson to get back on track.

"Before I even look at the foot, I would address the pelvis first," he said. "I would find out if they have other issues -- back pain, knee pain, hip pain -- [and] address those issues first because those are bigger muscles. And then look at the foot."

Reavy figures that if Noah and Gibson could get the rest of their body aligned correctly, the plantar fasciitis would be much easier to treat.

"Your body is connected and intertwined with fascia," he explained. "If fascia is tight somewhere it's going to pull on another portion. The way I explain it to patients is that you have one string. Your whole body is one string. When you pull on one end, it's going to pull the opposite end."

The Bulls are just hoping that the new-age treatment they've chosen for Noah will get him back on the court quickly. The young center makes up one important string of the Bulls season that they can't afford to have break.