Plantar Fasciitis – Your Lucky If You’ve Never Heard Of It!
Back in ’03, I stepped out of bed one morning and felt an extremely sharp pain in the bottom of my foot. It was not just my heel, but the arch of my foot felt so tight that I felt like I needed to stretch the absolute heck out of it.
After a couple more weeks of this same morning routine, I started to do some research and discovered that I had a condition called Plantar Fasciitis (“PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tus”). The bad news is that I kept reading over and over how hard it is to treat, it’s slow to heal, and it will continue to hurt like heck with every step.
I started immediately doing all kinds of stretches, bought all kinds of arch supporting foot wear and bought all kinds of braces, night-time splints, and stretching gimmicks to help me get rid of this chronic pain.
3 years later, I still dealt with it, but by then, it was more of a calf issue. I reduced my stretching, sort of gave up on it, and a few weeks later, it was gone.
All that to say, I don’t know what actually cured it (and when I say cure, I still have to be careful cause I can feel it trying to come back every once in a while), but I can tell you this….. the best way to deal with this condition is to prevent it.
You’re a candidate for Plantar Fasciitis if you walk or stand for a living. Or if you’re a jogger, or player of any sport that involves regular, sustained running or jumping — especially if you rarely stretch afterwards. Years of wearing non-arch supported flip-flops or going barefoot can also contribute to it. And, you’re even at greater risk if one or both of your feet pronate.
What is pronation?
Normally when you put weight on your feet — standing, walking, running -– your arches flatten out. If you pronate, your arches flatten too much. They actually collapse. Have you ever been told you have flat feet? If so, well, you may be a pronator.
Try this: Stand barefoot and have a friend try to place two fingers under your arch. It should be easy. But if it’s not, then you probably pronate.
Another way is look at you feet when you walk or casually stand. Do your feet turn out? If you look at the soles of your shoes, there will be more wear on the outsides of your heels if you pronate.
So, what do you do?
Well, as a first step, I would highly recommend that you wear some type of arch support in your shoes. In some situations, it’s not enough to just wear shoes with cushioned insoles — you may actually need shoes that support your arch. If all else fails, consider orthotics. Debilitating, chronic foot pain usually calls for a custom orthotic made by a podiatrist.
Once you’ve endured the pain of Plantar Fasciitis, you’ll probably be willing to give up cool Nike’s in exchange for a shoe with proper support. A good all-around insert can be found at http://www.barefootscience.net/. My favorite shoes so far (and I’ve tried many) are http://us.mbt.com/. But, if you’re local to Franklin, TN and want something even better, go over to Fletcher’s Shoes in the Grassland area (http://www.fletchershoes.com/), because they will pad up your shoes in a way that you’re guaranteed to love!
Oh, Before I Forget….. What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of your foot. If you strain your plantar fascia, it gets weak, swollen, and irritated (inflamed). Then your heel or the bottom of your foot hurts when you stand or walk. Constantly over-stretching it results in inflammation and pain. And a tight achilles and calf will pull up on your heel bone thereby stretching that fascia and causing pain, or even a heel spur.
Make a practice of stretching your achilles and calf muscles throughout the day, or even strengthening the arch to prevent pronation (try toe curls by sitting down, taking off your shoes, and curling your toes under as hard as you can and as many times as you can).
If you are currently suffering Plantar Fasciitis pain, then stay off your feet (rest), ice, stretch, and wait patiently. When the pain lessens, take some of the steps I’ve outlined above to prevent it from ever happening again!