Archive for the ‘Plantar Fasciitis Basics’ Category

Pill popping is not a heel pain remedy

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Came across a good article that discusses some unexpected results from frequent use of ibuprofen. This story focused on runners, but the physiology principles are the same for anybody who comes to rely on NSAIDS like ibuprofen for aches and pains.

My thoughts: for the most reliable, long-lasting recuperation from plantar fasciitis, a person should stretch, strengthen, brace, and accommodate – don’t medicate.

The beauty of cumulative damage

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Beauty of cumulative damage? Am I crazy?? Well, maybe, but not in this case.

The plantar fasciitis condition is one which results from long-term, repeated wear and tear where you accumulate micro-injuries. In other words, cumulative damage. Not sounding too beautiful so far. So, what’s my point?

My point is, you have a fair amount of leeway when experimenting with recovery methods and the altering of your routine as you allow your feet to recover and heal. It’s hard to recuperate from plantar fasciitis while being largely inactive. Conversely, it will be far more beneficial to you and your feet if you are active, engaging regularly in strengthening, stretching, and endurance-building motions. But…you can’t overdo it either. And that’s where the beauty of cumulative damage comes in. You actually can do some trial and error, push your limits here and there, and ease back on efforts which prove to be too much. It took a long time to get to the injured state called plantar fasciitis; the body will adjust if you do a little too much now and then according to your individual physical makeup and injury severity. For example, you won’t undo months of recovery if you applied too much enthusiasm to one extra long walk or one arch strengthening session. Back off, let the soreness recede, and do a little less the next time. Make your recovery journey a learning experience as well as a comeback to a healthy state. When it comes to active recovery, proceed with confidence, not fear. Adjust as you go.

For a complete listing and description of every stretching and strengthening motion you will ever need to vanquish plantar fasciitis, consider my book Injury Afoot: 30 Things You Can Do To Relieve Heel Pain And Speed Healing of Plantar Fasciitis. The exercises are easy, painless, don’t take long, and can actually be relaxing. They are all consolidated into one brief, easy-to-read resource.  And they work.

How can you tell if you have plantar fasciitis?

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Plantar fasciitis causes pain on the underside of the foot, mostly in the heel, particularly at the heel’s inside edge. The back of the heel may become quite tender as well. A slight swelling may occur where your heel meets your instep. Usually, most of the pain from plantar fasciitis occurs near the heel, since that is the spot where the plantar fascia is thinnest and where it withstands the most pressure. The first few steps taken after getting out of bed are generally the most painful. With these first steps of the day, you may feel a piercing sensation along with a pulling at your heel. The pain can be quite sharp, as if you just stepped on a sharp rock while barefoot. As you move on with your day, the heel pain may lessen and often disappears. The discomfort can return, however, after prolonged walking and standing, and resting may only bring temporary relief. The pain can actually be more intense after resting. And even if all soreness disappears during the day, the tenderness may resume once again in the evening, even if you manage to stay off your feet.

You may also develop “heel spurs” as a result of the plantar fasciitis. Heel spurs are calcium deposits which result from the inflamed plantar fascia being pulled and strained where it attaches to the heel. The heel spurs form at the front of the heel and can be felt through palpitation. Heel spurs themselves do not hurt, and do not cause plantar fasciitis. They are instead a symptom of it.

Plantar fasciitis: of knives and needles

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

When stricken with a torturous condition like plantar fasciitis, it is understandable for you or anyone else to seek out a quick fix. Who wouldn’t? Unfortunately, quick fixes for plantar fasciitis are in short supply. But that doesn’t mean some “instant cures” won’t be dangled in front of vulnerable plantar fasciitis victims.

The two most common, supposedly quick solutions people turn to in hopes of reprieve from the agony are

1) surgery, and

2) corticosteroid injections.

In the great majority of cases, both are poor choices for the plantar fasciitis sufferer, and here’s why:

In the case of surgery, the procedure often makes no difference. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that in approximately 25% of all people who have surgery for plantar fasciitis, the heel pain remains. And even more unsettling: the release of tension on the injured plantar fascia, meant to relieve pressure and the “pull” on it that allows the fascia to stay vulnerable, is done by cutting it. This same relief of pressure can be achieved by thorough and consistent flexibility exercises. Regular stretching sounds easier and less frightening to me…how about you?

Corticosteroid injections often bring instant, albeit temporary, relief. But the relief is supplied in some cases at great cost. The majority of experts agree, corticosteroid injections can come with some nasty side effects. Some of these side effects are as follows:
•    Muscle damage in the immediate area.
•    Complete rupture of the fascia (as opposed to the much milder micro-tears associated with plantar fasciitis).
•    Skin pigmentation changes.
•    Injury to peripheral nerves.
•    Atrophy of the fat pad in your heel (padding which provides crucial protection).

Repeated injections increase these risks. Since they provide temporary pain relief and not healing, once on the injection treadmill, you may in fact come to rely on these repeat injections. Watch out. Get dependent on corticosteroid injections and you could end up with a condition that makes plantar fasciitis look pretty tame.

And what’s more, neither surgery nor corticosteroid injections address the things that cause plantar fasciitis in the first place. Neither “remedy” makes key areas of your body flexible; neither makes weak supporting muscles strong. They have nothing to do with better footwear, arch supports, and foot protection. Neither encourages you to increase or decrease certain activities according to your specific situation and level of injury. These are the things needed to make plantar fasciitis disappear and make it stay gone.

It’s my opinion that a person avoid both surgery and corticosteroid injections, and instead embrace a regimen of active recovery. Such a program will reduce or eliminate pain from plantar fasciitis. It will make you more flexible and strong, and the exercise routine may even help you become a little lighter! (Shedding excess weight definitely helps your feet during plantar fasciitis recovery.) And other than good footwear and possibly devices like a night splint and over-the-counter shoe inserts, this kind of self-directed program is FREE. Compare that to the costly surgery and injection procedures some folks undergo.  Besides being cheaper and safer, steps involved in an active recovery program are generally easy, painless, and can even be pleasant.

The fitness/plantar fasciitis paradox

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

To all you fitness enthusiasts and avid exercisers who acquired plantar fasciitis: I feel your pain. Or at least I used to.

What a maddening condition it is…the very activities which bolster your health, tone your muscles, and burn calories are often those that contribute to the arrival of plantar fasciitis. Running, hiking, walking, maybe even yardwork or other projects. And to a greater extent, working a job on your feet all day. Sound familiar? Grrr. What a deal. Proof that fairness often does not prevail.

But reality is what it is. The best first step is to decide you can and will overcome it. Don’t do anything rash, as in things involving scalpels and injections. I’ll continue to post ideas and exercises to guide plantar fasciitis sufferers through the ordeal. You’re almost certain to find a combination of actions therein that works for you and your particular injury level. Once you’ve talked to as many folks as I have when researching material for the book Injury Afoot: 30 Things You Can Do to Relieve Heel Pain and Speed Healing of Plantar Fasciitis, you realize a couple of things: almost everyone you speak with knows someone who’s acquired it, or has had it themselves. And, fortunately, a great many of those victims eventually beat it…for them it’s now just a bad (very bad) memory.

So active, productive, wholesome people are often the ones who fall under the spell of plantar fasciitis. It’s the sad truth. But those same people often overcome it and get back to an active lifestyle. Be one of them.

Plantar Fasciitis: The Beast that strikes out of nowhere – sort of

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

So plantar fasciitis snuck into your life, all of a sudden. It sunk in its talons, and yanked you off your feet as you writhed in a fit of pain. And it’s not yet ready to release you from its grasp.  And the funny thing is (if it can ever be called funny), the plantar fasciitis condition came out of the blue. It struck out of nowhere!

Or so it seems. The truth is, plantar fasciitis is a condition that results from cumulative stress. As in, years of accumulating damage in some cases. When it rears its ugly head, it rears it big time, no question. But it had been creeping up for quite a while, if your situation is like most.

Here are some possible examples:

Years of … working on your feet, with little reprieve; wearing bad (but maybe cool-looking!) shoes; never, ever stretching; bearing a little too much weight on your frame; exercising too little, resulting in weakened supporting muscles; exercising too much, and not allowing your body to recuperate. The list goes on, but you get the picture. These factors and others will be covered more in-depth in future posts, but for now realize that this situation is not like a broken arm or a sprained ankle. It’s not from one sudden action that wrenched your feet into an injured state. In most cases, the injury built up over a long time.

What does this mean? Well, it may mean that it will take a while to undo it. You will need to nurture your injured feet; you will need to take action and create conditions that put your body in the best possible state to heal. And you’ll need to practice patience accordingly. That’s what I’ll help you with in these pages, and what I cover in greater detail in the book Injury Afoot: 30 Things You Can Do To Relieve Heel Pain And Speed Healing of Plantar Fasciitis.

But take heart. Most of a plantar fasciitis recovery journey involves establishing a healthy routine which involves some easy stretching and strengthening motions, wearing ideal footwear, and avoiding the actions that hurt you in the first place. It may take a few weeks or a few months…or not. Your recovery may be almost instantaneous, nobody knows. And you won’t know until you embrace a sensible recovery routine. So have confidence,  believe in your body’s power to heal, and start your comeback today.

The plantar fascia: durable but not flexible

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Your foot’s plantar fascia, the dense, durable band of connective tissue which runs from your heel to the base of your toes, has maintained its integrity for years and years of your lifetime. The average person takes 5,000 to 12,000 steps daily. Many of these steps are on hard, unforgiving surfaces, and each step puts a force on the feet that is about one and a half times that person’s body weight. When running, your feet withstand more than three times this force. From childhood to adulthood, the plantar fascia has endured all this, held its own, and helped you stand, walk, and run.

Yet despite its rugged nature, the plantar fascia has a marked weakness. It lacks flexibility. The plantar fascia is made of collagen, and collagen is not very elastic. So even though the plantar fascia is pretty tough, when it is subjected to impact, stresses, and strains, it does not stretch to any great extent and then bounce back. Instead, the force it weathers from this repetitive trauma causes tiny tears to form along its surface. These micro-tears will eventually heal, if allowed to do so. But if the abuse continues without rest or remedy, your feet have no chance to recover from the existing tears. With unrelenting trauma, bad things can happen. The micro-tears can increase. The collagen of which the plantar fascia is composed degenerates. Inflammation of the plantar fascia follows and remains. The inflammation then causes soreness, and in some cases debilitating pain.

Plan-ter-fash-ee-WHAT?? Plantar Fasciitis explained

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Plantar fasciitis, pronounced “PLAN-ter fash-ee-I-tis,” is a repetitive stress injury affecting the sturdy band of connective tissue which runs from your heel to the base of your toes. It is characterized by numerous micro-tears along this band, which result in pain ranging from a dull ache to a sharp stabbing feeling. Plantar fasciitis can last for months or even years.

However, the condition is highly treatable and may heal much, much faster if its hobbled victim engages in active recovery. Recovery time can be reduced immensely if the sufferer commits to a sensible, sound recuperation plan. This blog will discuss active recovery steps and how you can work them into your daily life.

Suffer from plantar fasciitis? You’ve got plenty of company.

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

In the throes of plantar fasciitis pain? You’re far from alone. The medical industry generally agrees: an incredible 10% of the world’s population will experience the condition during their lifetime. And with an increase in obesity and an aging population (two of the primary risk factors for plantar fasciitis) throughout much of the world, that percentage could actually inch up.

What makes these numbers even worse is the duration of plantar fasciitis misery. Victims tend to languish in pain from anywhere between a month to several years, and some retain it forever. The folks who heal quickly are those who take action. The ones who commit to helping themselves heal. Conversely, those people who continue to suffer from it tend to ignore it and just wait for the condition to go away on its own.

Choose to not ignore plantar fasciitis; resist letting the malady make you a hobbled victim. You can turn this thing around. But to do that, you need to make a commitment and take action. I don’t believe in magical remedies and miracle cures – although I do know beating plantar fasciitis can feel miraculous! (See the “About” section in the sidebar for more of that. :”) It takes most people years to develop plantar fasciitis; thus, it takes some time to undo it. There is no 10-minute cure for plantar fasciitis, regardless of what some advertisers would like you to believe. You want to not only alleviate the pain and recuperate from the acute injury phase…you want to prevent plantar fasciitis from recurring. And that takes a full-spectrum approach to healing. Strengthening, stretching, caution, enthusiasm, info on new findings, encouragement, advice, etc.

That’s the perspective of this site, and that’s what I’ll help pass along to you.