I developed extreme pain in my left foot a few weeks ago and diagnosed myself with plantar fasciitis (pronounced PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tus). A little google search showed that it’s the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is the band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes and supports the arch of your foot. If you strain your plantar fascia, it gets weak, swollen and inflamed, and the heel or bottom of your foot hurts when you walk or stand. This explained what I was feeling to a ‘T’!
I’m not a baby, (well, not a huge one) and I can take my share of pain now and then. But with everything I read about how long it would take me to recover, I was freaking out a little bit. I thought of going to the doctor, but decided he’d just tell me to ice and rest, which is what I was doing anyway. Time would tell if I should seek medical attention.
For the first 5-7 days or so there was a constant dull ache throughout my foot (like a sprain) and it felt like I was walking on nails with every step. I’ve never actually walked on nails before, but in my opinion it couldn’t feel any worse than this did! During this time I stocked up on products that claimed to reduce plantar fasciitis pain.
I ended up with 3 things.
First was an arch support by Pro-Tec. I tried it on in the store and I thought it was amazing. Once I got it home though, I realized it put way too much pressure on the inflamed area. There was no way I could wear it at this point.
Next I tried KT tape. The first time I ever saw this colorful tape was on Kerri Walsh in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Surely if it worked for her it would work for me! Well, it might have if I had a different injury, but the foot and ankle move way too much and I had trouble getting it to stick.
My favorite find was ‘Feetures’ which is a sleeve or toeless sock. It helps lift and stabilize the plantar fascia in order to ease heel pain and reduce swelling. I’m not sure if it really did anything or just eased my mind because I thought it was doing something. Either way, I thought is was worth the money.
What I learned from this whole thing:
My real best friends were ice, rest and stretching:
I learned pretty quickly that a cold compress isn’t cold enough. If you have major swelling you need major cold and only real ice will do. Ice 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off and repeat. Do this often.
As far as rest goes, anything more than walking was off limits to me as long as I had any pain. This was a self imposed rule and it was a good one. I have to be strict with myself. I did do nonimpact workouts to keep myself sane though. It was OK as long as there was no pain involved.
Finally, stretching is a must! A common cause of plantar fasciitis is a tight Achilles tendon (the the big tendon at the bottom of your calf muscles above your heel). This can affect your ability to flex your ankle and make you more likely to damage your plantar fascia. I have a habit of overtraining and not stretching enough. Who out there DOES stretch enough? Pat yourself on the back if you do!!
The Silver Lining
I’m not really sure if my self diagnosis of plantar fasciitis is an accurate one. Everything I’ve read says that it takes about 9 months to a year or more to fully recover if you’re careful. It only took me a couple of weeks. I do still feel a tiny bit of inflammation but no pain whatsoever.
The good news is that I learned to take better care of myself. I never meant to be a ‘do what I say, not what I do (or don’t do)’ type of trainer. This was an accident. Like everyone, I get busy and am often pressed for time. The truth is I would do a high impact workout and NOT stretch afterwards, and I did this repeatedly. I know you’re gasping right now. So am I!
You can’t constantly pound your body without it retaliating in some way. It wants proper rest. Your tight muscles need to be stretched.
I think I’m in a better place now having gone through this. Sometimes you need to get a little scared to change the way you do things. I’m actually thankful for this experience!
I really don’t recommend self diagnosis and think everyone should consult a physician if they have an injury. I’ve had many injuries and lots of visits to various doctors. I was just implementing what I already knew before going again.
Also, plantar fasciitis has many causes, but I just addressed it as it affected me.
Finally, stay healthy and active everyone! And don’t forget to stretch!