If you missed the Opening Gambit, you can find it here. That gives the basics of plantar fasciitis and also explains how I got into the disaster zone of the last year.
If you’re reading this because you also have the dreaded plantar fasciitis and you’d like to know what to do about it, let me first say, I am so sorry you are dealing with this. It’s not fun. I’m going to tell you what I’ve tried and what I think worked. But I still think the most important things are patience and persistence. What worked for me or for your cousin/friend/boss’s nephew might or might not work for you. It’s probably worth trying because you never know. The most important thing is not to give up.
It’s also worth remembering that I managed to get a partial tear of the plantar fasciia so my case was well above average in horribleness. There is a decent chance that things will go better for you. I certainly hope so!
Today I’m going to talk about what I think of as Front Line Assault Measures. One really difficult thing and a collection of easy things that you should do right now (remember – this is all my opinion – I am bossy when it comes to getting rid of PF).
The Number One Most Helpful Thing You Can Do
Let’s start here because it’s the worst thing on the list. Stop running. Yes, STOP RUNNING. I know that idea sucks. Believe me. I know if you are reading this because you have plantar fasciitis that your heart just dropped into your stomach. I know that your brain is fighting even reading these words. I know that you are going to say, I can’t stop running because A) I have an important race to train for and B) I will get depressed if I can’t run, no I mean, really, like clinically depressed, and C) running is how I see my friends and D) if I stop running, I will not meet goal X (X miles per week/month/year or X days in a row of a running streak or whatever else X is) and also E) if I stop running, I will get fat. I really do know all of that because all of that applied to me as well. Still – Stop Running. The sooner you stop, the less damage you will do and the quicker this horrible chapter will be behind you.
Stopping running is awful. But recovering is really good. Running without pain is marvelous. Keep that in mind the next time that foot is hurting.
I also know, lots of people will not listen to this advice and in fact, some people run through a bout of plantar fasciitis and recover. But my favorite line from my favorite source on this topic bears repeating. “Who is stubborn? The plantar fasciitis or the runner?” You can return to this horrible not-running-situation when the other stuff doesn’t work.
Front Line Assault Techniques
These are things that are easy to do and that you can and should implement immediately.
- Don’t go barefoot. At all. Always wear supportive shoes. All of those cute Italian boots with the thin soles? Put them in the back of the closet. The summer flip flops without arch support? Just throw those away. The ballerina flats? No. Different people have different levels of success with shoes like clogs. I pretty much lived in running shoes for several months. Chaco’s sandals also worked for me and I bought a pair of Oofos flip flops. Even though I am a devoted Chaco’s girl, if you have PF, you owe it to yourself to get a pair of Oofos. Once you beat the PF, some of those shoes can maybe make a reappearance, depending on how risky you want to be and how cute the shoes are. Here are some gorgeous ones I did not buy in the hazardous city of Berlin. Sigh.
- Ice your foot. A lot. A frozen water bottle is a good way to go here, and if that works, great. If not, advance to freezing Dixie cups full of water and then using these frozen blobs for ice massage. This technique has the advantage of feeling fantastic. There is basically no such thing as too much icing.
- Bumpy balls (Rubz), foot rollers, golf balls. I’ll talk about other toys worth trying in the next post, but you want something to roll your foot out with. Do this a lot. You can also get someone to massage your feet, if you are very lucky.
- Calf stretching. Stand on a step and drop your heels off it. Downward facing dog. Lean into the wall and stretch your calf with straight and bent knee. All of that is good unless it hurts your foot, in which case, don’t do it. How much stretching is too much? This is like ice – there’s really no such thing as too much, unless it hurts.
Sometimes a little rest [I.e., NO RUNNING – and actually, just stay off your feet as much as possible] plus front line assault measures can get plantar fasciitis under control. Between 2009 and 2016, I probably had four or five flare-ups of PF that I managed to get back in line in a week or so using only these front line assault measures. Sometimes the basics work and they are certainly worth doing. If not, it’s time to move on to Specialized Weaponry, i.e., Toys. That’s the topic for the next post.