Over the course of the last 4-6 months I have noticed that the bottom of my feet hurt especially first thing in the morning when I get out of bed. It is not crippling pain but it feels like a bruise and usually hangs around in some fashion all day. Sometimes it is more irritating than others like when I’ve been sitting down for a period of time. Other times I don’t notice it much. This week I finally got tired of it and posted a question to my Twitter community asking what they thought and noting that I had a suspicion after doing some reading, that I had a form of Plantar Fasciitis. I didn’t expect an answer as quickly as I got one. My new friend @LissaB who happens to live in South Africa replied. She is a Physical Therapist and what she does with her Twitter relationships is offer “Free advice from a PT that knows :)” How lucky for me!
So we did a bit of Q&A where she asked me a series of questions to get a feel for my issues and then had me send her pictures of my bare feet doing certain movements so she could see how my arch and achilles tendons were functioning in order to better assess how I could lessen the discomfort. By definition according to the Mayo “Clinic, Plantar Fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis) is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes.” Ultimately the only thing that will make it go away fully is to stop overusing it which means that I would have to stop running and the answer to that is a resounding NO! That is not happening so I will do whatever I need to in order to make it feel a little better.
The thing that I want to avoid, which I did not know, is that when everything isn’t in perfect working order in your foot it can cause the fascia to tear. The body will grow extra bone to fill in the tear which then becomes a bone or heel spur. Yeah I definitely do not want to deal with that so I’m on a mission.
My new pal @LissaB took the time to make the following suggestions for my particular issue which I’ve summed up in part here for you. Now remember that everyone can have different symptoms which may be treated differently depending on circumstances so don’t take this as the bible for Plantar Fasciitis treatment. You need to see a professional to get diagnosed and receive an active plan for yourself. With that said, these suggestions couldn’t hurt to try since they aren’t medications or surgical options. She suggested both Active and Passive treatments. Here is my personal prescription:
- Freeze a bottle of water and roll your arch and heel over it for 10 minutes, moving from your heel to your toes – Do it as many times as you can, when you watch TV, when you sit down, etc. (but keep an hour interval in between).
- Stretch your legs and feet everymorning before getting out of bed and before going to sleep. Stretching can include any or all of the following:
- Stand on several books, or a stair with only the balls of your feet – lower your heels down (below the level of the books/steps) and stay in that lowered position for 10 seconds, then pull up to your toes and stay up for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
- Get a towel and sit on the floor – place the towel directly over the ball of your foot and pull the towel towards you, as you pull, counter it by pushing your toes forward – this will stretch the plantar fascia. stay in that position for 10 seconds then let go. Repeat 5 times.
- Place a towel on the floor – Only use your toes in order to fold it as many times as you can (any direction) you can also scrunch your toes. This is a good exercise for the fascia.
- Massage your heel and arch – This may be painful at first but it will help break up the inflammation – You can use a tennis ball or a golf ball for this. Stand up and roll it under your foot for 10 minutes.
- Get fitted with custom orthotics (inserts) to better support your arches.
- Combine these with quality tennis shoes or sneakers.
- Wrap your arch and ankle with an ace bandage to limit movement in your foot joints and to keep the fascia stretched.
- Purchase and wear a night splint to keep your arch stretched during the night.
I have tried the active treatments including bringing a tennis ball to work on the days when I wear shoes that come off easily so I can roll my foot on the ball. I will say that even though it hasn’t been an extended period of time trying these options, I did notice that the last two days when I get out of bed it isn’t quite as tender when I hit the floor. Pretty easy in my opinion and a small sacrifice of time to trade off in order to be more comfortable.