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Old 06-23-10, 11:35 AM  
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Duluth, MN/Superior, WI
I had it for a while too, but I got rid of it mostly by stretching - and time - I do think time is a big factor in PF, it just takes a while to heal (but it does, have hope)

I didn't get any special shoes or do any icing, but I did get nice tennies with good arch support and sometimes picked up some extra arch support inserts for various shoes.

For the stretching:

Every morning when I woke up, BEFORE I got out of bed and put any weight on my stiff feet, I put my toes/ball of the foot against the wall and stretched my heels gently but well. I really think THAT was key for me because the mornings I did that, my feet never hurt as much as the days when I just got out of bed and hobbled around on stiff feet - I think doing that aggravated the condition.

Then I would continue to stretch my calves and heels throughout the day, ESPECIALLY when I'd been sitting for a while and my feet had stiffened up again.

It took a few months, and it went away gradually, but one day I realized that it was simply GONE and my feet felt fine, and I haven't had ANY problems at all in a few years.

EDIT: Like Sophie, I'm back to being barefoot when I want, and I always workout barefoot these days (for the last six months)

EDIT 2: I also think I took ibuprofen regularly when it was at it's worst, to control the inflammation

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Old 06-23-10, 11:43 AM  
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Join Date: Oct 2006
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Emily - You have my sympathy! I will throw my story in too. I had a major case of PF with a heel spur two years ago. It sounds to me like you are doing a lot of things right. Recovery was a lengthy process for me, it took close to 9 months. I did try to go back to running once about 3 or 4 months after getting my orthotics and had a set back. Other than that, I did not do any high impact exercise at all during that time. But I am back running again and my feet feel good. I did a very gradual return to running as well, starting with short run/walk intervals. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

I did end up having a cortisone injection into my heel. I don't think I would recommend that as it was quite painful. I did improve after the injection, but not sure it was worth it as I could barely walk for a few days after it.

I have custom orthotics and I still wear them when I run or walk any long distance. I even found sandals that they fit in and you can't even notice them. But my orthotics required some tweaking to feel good. My podiatrist sent them back to the orthotic person to have them trimmed as they were not quite right to start with. There is an adjustment period where they might be a little uncomfortable, but they shouldn't be painful. Sounds like yours need some adjustments. I agree with Shelley - persist until they feel right. Once mine were tweaked, they felt great and still do. I am on my feet a lot at work and I wouldn't be without them.

I also did, and still do, lots of stretching and yoga. I like to give my feet the freedom of some barefoot workouts to strengthen them because they are so often confined in shoes. I used an ankle/arch support bandage like Rose described for yoga and it worked very well. It looked like this:

And, as others have said too - it takes time and patience. It will heal. Those of us who love to run are often not patient - I know I struggled big time not to lace up my shoes and head out the door too soon.

Take care and hang in there!

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Old 06-23-10, 11:48 AM  
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Join Date: Nov 2001
My PF apparently was caused by tight hamstrings and lower back mucles. Once I added those stretches on the advice of a podiatrist, I was able to recover. I had several recurrences and treated them with icing, ibuprofen and calf, hamstring and back stretches. Since I started doing Classical Stretch which incorporates some strength work for your feet and ankles, as well as allover body stretches, I haven't had a hint of PF.

Wishing you a speedy recovery.
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Old 06-23-10, 12:02 PM  
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Hi Emily,
I was hobbled by PF 2 years ago for several months (I think about 8!). I started out stretching my feet every time I got out of bed or up from a chair. Helped a little. Then I started wearing Skechers Shape-ups to work. That helped a little more. Then I got special insoles from a specialty shoe store. Made it worse. Then I tried those foot braces that pull your toes back while you sleep. Couldn't stand it. Than I started scooting down in bed and sleeping with my feet up against the footboard so that they were flexed while I slept. That cured me! (within a week or two) It was worth sleeping on my back for a few weeks. I started wearing crocs around the house, and I haven't had a flare-up since.
I replace my work shoes about every 3 or 4 months, and don't go barefoot anymore.

Good luck.

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Old 06-23-10, 12:03 PM  
Join Date: May 2006
Hi Emily,

So sorry you have to deal with this but please don't lose heart because it's often just a matter of figuring out your individual needs for treatment. I wanted to throw out a couple of ideas for you to consider based on the information you gave in your post.

First, poor fitting orthotics can "wedge" against the plantar fascia and exacerbate the problem. Since you say that you were showing improvement up until the last few days, it may just be that the orthotics you recently started are irritating the area. Based on your description, that would be much more likely than a bone spur (especially after a negative x-ray only 6 weeks ago).

You mention that you love running and step aerobics. Both activities are calf intensive (even more so if you have weak hamstrings and poor glute activation). Tight calf muscles are often ignored or barely addressed with regards to PF but they can be a primary cause. When calf muscles tighten, they pull up on the heel (via the Achilles tendon) and will not allow the foot to function properly with regards to shock absorption. In addition to the extra force (pounding)that is then translated to the tissue, the fascia also has to constantly "fight" against the upward pull of the heel. This eventually causes microtears. The tears cannot repair faster than the damage occurs since the opposing force is still present. Stretching is extremely important but may be hindered if trigger points have formed in the calf/foot muscles. Trigger points cause sustained contraction and will not allow the muscles to be fully stretched. Removing trigger points in both the calf and foot can be very helpful in increasing flexibility and making your current stretches more effective. Ideally, increasing flexibility in the hamstrings and low back would have an additional chain effect in creating less pull against the foot. You may want to add foam rolling/stretches for those regions as well if you don't get complete resolution after treating the calves. If you think any of this might apply to you, I have provided some links to get you started:

Anatomy - calf muscles (soleus, gastrocnemius, note the layers)

Trigger point radiation from calf into foot (you don't need the tools they are advertising --- tennis ball actually works better)

Soleus - trigger point release techniques

Gastrocnemius - more trigger point info for the region

More calf rolling, techniques for increasing flexibility

Foot massage using tennis ball
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Old 06-23-10, 12:06 PM  
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: TX
oh another thing...I had tight hamstrings and lower back pain too and went to a chiropractor (still ongoing) to fix those issues and that may have had some impact on fixing my feet too (in addition to losing weight, stretching, sketchers tone ups)
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Old 06-23-10, 12:30 PM  
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Wow! I'm sorry to hear about all the trouble you're experiencing with PF. It must be disheartening.

I've been there. Ten years ago, I ran miles & miles each week and also did occasional step aerobics. This, I believe, led to PF -- esp. the step aerobics. It was so bad for me that I could hardly walk. I went to an orthopedic surgeon who gave me a simple (and very comfortable) rubber insert to place in the heel of my shoes. I was very skeptical and nearly angry at its simplicity. I thought I had a serious, complicated problem which would take months to recover from.

To my surprise, I placed these orthodics in my shoe and voila! It worked. I actually ran the next day. It was nearly miraculous.

At the very least, I don't believe your orthodics should be hurting you. Mine are small clear rubber thingies which cost $38 a pair the last time I got some through my doctor. I wear them all the time when I workout. I don't wear them otherwise.

I believe step aerobics was the worst thing for aggravating my PF. I gave up step aerobics (mostly) and running after that last serious bout with PF. I now do kettlebells, circuit training, yoga & outdoor walking. I've experienced no PF problems since I made this switch. In fact, I often workout in my barefeet.

Hang in there! It will get better!
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Old 06-23-10, 03:02 PM  
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: D.C. Area
I feel your pain. I was diagnosed with PF and heel spurs almost 2 years ago. I got cortisone shots, had to wear an adjustable boot at night, iced my foot every night and had custom orthoodotics made. They were uncomfortable at first but the doctor told me to gradually get used to them by increasing the hours I wear them every day. Stretching really helped also and try not to walk around barefoot. I keep my crocs right next to my bed and put them on before my feet hit the floor.

I have not had any flare ups for quite a while. I'm able to do low impact (was never really a fan of high impact anyway). Also, what helped is wearing shoes with good arch support. They can be kind of costly but I'm willing to pay the price so I won't have any pain again. Softspots, Danskos and Clarks are good. As far as athletic shoes, I just stick my orthodotics in my shoes and they do just fine.

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Old 06-23-10, 04:16 PM  
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: NJ
My problem started months ago but is completely gone in my right foot and slowly but surely disappearing in my left. Best I can figure it is that it started when I got a UR. I have always bounced barefooted but guess my feet didn't like it on the UR.
I am planning to get a WalkFit Platinum insert at Bed, Bath and Beyond now that I have a discount coupon to use. Didn't want to order them online or by phone because heard customer service nightmares even though the product got great reviews.

Barb S
who has walked several miles a day with shoes with no problems but still occasionally feel a twinge in the middle of the night when going to the bathroom barefooted
Barb S
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Old 06-23-10, 07:53 PM  
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Thank you SOOOO MUCH for your replies and all of your advice (and sympathy). It sounds like it is more likely a problem with my orthotics than a bone spur development, and I have a doctors appointment tomorrow with the podiatrist and look forward to addressing my concerns with him then.

I really do need to stretch the calves and feet more, especially in the AM before I get out of bed. I have also been walking around barefoot (in the house) and maybe I'll get some supportive shoes to keep indoors to wear around the house except when in bed.

Last but certainly not least for me is to focus on being patient, which in general I'm not very good at.

Again I really REALLY appreciate all of your responses and advice. Thank you so much!! I was so frustrated this morning I was crying at length, but am feeling better now. And that's a very large part in thanks to all of the information you gave me, and your prompt response to my post,. Thank you all so much.
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foot injury, foot pain, orthotics, plantar fasciitis

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