I've been dealing with plantar fasciitis since a marathon in 2010. Admittedly, I wasn't good to my feet - wore heels, didn't stretch enough, not sufficient TLC - but man that pain was rough. After 6 months PT and regular podiatrist appointments (with cortisone shots), I still couldn't get a good run in.
Recently, I read on another forum that rolling a tennis ball (or golf ball) on the bottom of your feet while at your desk or on the couch acts as a nice muscle massager. Within about a week of using the tennis balls, plus continued icing and stretching, I'm now feeling back to normal. I also use better arch support insoles in both my running and walking shoes.
I just wanted to post this tip. I know everyone develops and heals from plantar fasciitis differently. Good luck to you!
Please be aware of the full impact the Golf Ball Fix can have.
When I was in school, one of my instructors had me perform a test: First, I bent over to touch my toes (always have a hard time doing this). The position of my fingers was noted. Then I was told to roll a golf ball under the arch of one foot only. After a few painful minutes of this, I again bent over to touch my toes, and the fingers on the same side as the foot I treated with the golf ball were over an inch closer to my toes.
I and the rest of the class didn't know the object of the experiment before it was performed. The lesson was that release of the Plantar Fascia has an effect on tissues much farther away. In fact, there is a continuous band of connected tissues (fascia) from the sole of the foot to the top of the head, which this experiment partly demonstrated.
My point is that stretching or loosening something may have an impact far beyond your direct intentions. Although I have recommended the Golf Ball Fix before, it does not apply in every case. Yes, there are a few layers of muscle on the plantar side of the foot that can benefit from massage, but stretching the fascia to get to them may not be necessary, especially if you have a flat or pronated foot that may lack sufficient tension in the Plantar Fascia.
When massaging muscles of the foot specifically, it is best to passively force plantar flexion of the foot to release the plantar fascia, as we do it professionally, by laying the client face down on a massage table or exercise mat.
Regarding arch supports, they should be viewed as a quick fix, not a permanent solution. In fact, an arch support forces some of the weight of impact to be borne by the Plantar Fascia, which can then stretch it, causing the arch to relax and become even more dependent on the arch support.
Arch supports were conceived by specialists who looked past the muscles and fascia to the bone structure of the foot. While it is true that a support restores the intended shape to the arch, there is already a mechanism in place to do this, that in many cases become too tight or too loose, for various reasons. Muscular dysfunction in the leg is often the culprit. Restoring the proper operation to this mechanism is more important than making the arch look instantly perfect so people can run right away.
Releasing the muscles of the calf from chronic tension, coupled with strengthening them (both are important), particularly the deep muscle Tibialis Posterior, can help restore healthy tension to the arch. Some people have even reported raising of the arch by using barefoot running, or unstructured shoes like Vibram 5-Fingers, which simply removes the prosthetic support of shoes and orthotics, and replaces them with... nothing. For some individuals, this can force the muscles to adapt to rebuild the arch. For most people, a crutch is a temporary remedy. I hope that in your case it is so.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the more common complaints that I treat. I find that the combination of deep tissue massage from a highly skilled fascial therapist; self massage using foam roller therapy; and corrective exercise to be a very successful treatment.
Here is an article with self massage exercises specific to treating plantar fasciitis.
I've read through many posts and different threads on this particular injury and one constant that I seem to run into is that treatment for everyone is different. I have been dealing with my constant pain since January of this year (started with my left arch and sometime about Spring -- started occurring in my right)... I have been stretching and self massaging and will continue to do so, but one thing I have neglected to do is to take a good amount of time off from running altogether.
It's been a little over a week since my last run and plan to stay off for at least a month and see if it improves that way. This is one frustrating pain in the foot (no pun intended) because not running makes me feel like a lazy slob!
On a side note, I am glad to hear about the steriod shots being only a temporary fix, since the last check up I had with my physician told me ... "he discouraged giving them casue they were so painful.."
Appreciate reading all the helpful information. Thanks.
You may want to reflecta little on the idea of continuing with stretching. In my experience recalcitrent heel pain often is related to too much stretching. Take a look at short article I wrote Foot Posture Foot Pain - everyday postions which stretch the plantar fascia, and Stretching Exercise Delays Recovery from Heel Pain.
Damien Howell PT, DPT. OCS
I've only just started running (this is my second week of C25K). After running yesterday morning, this morning I woke up with pain in my heels. After consulting Dr Google it seems like a textbook case of plantar fasciitis.
I'm just wondering how I should address it. From what I've read, rest, ice, stretching and new shoes are obvious first steps. However it's unclear to me how LONG I need to rest. Before this problem cropped up, I was planning to run again tomorrow morning. If my heels feel fine tomorrow, should I run? I obviously don't want to make it any worse and I'm hoping that treating it at this early stage means I can prevent it from turning into a major problem.
Any advice would be gratefully received.
It is good that you are doing your research - and one of the things that you will find is that there is no one way to fix Plantar Faciitis. Different things work for different people. Here is what I've learned:
1. NOT running does NOT make it get better. The good news though is that tunning does not make it worse. So keep running....
2. The root cause of PF seems to often be somewhere other than the sole of your foot. It may be a calf, hamstring, or quad that is causing the problem.
3. Consider seeing a chiropractor for an "alignment" to help with removing the root cause for the PF.
4. I do ice my foot immediately after running. I literally plop my foot in a sink with cold water and add ice to it. Soak for 10-12 minutes, then dry off and warm up with a towel.
5. Do A LOT of stretching. Find routines that allow you stretch all areas of your legs. For your foot and the PF itself, while sitting, place the affected foot on your knee, then with one hand stretch your toes back to your ankle while at the same time massaging your instep with your other hand. I found that this helped me tremendously if I did it several times a day.
6. Taping: Taping was very helpful at first, a life saver actually, and then it didn't do anything for me for a while. You can do a search for taping techniques - there are various iterations, and then I wound up doing my own just because it felt good.
7. Gel inserts: try some generic gel inserts to help ease the discomfort in your heel.
8. In the morning, before you get out of bed, stretch your foot a bunch. Otherwise, your first few steps will be very painful. While in bed, just pull your toes back to your ankle a bunch, then release and point your toes all the way out. Repeat a bunch of times.
9. Sitting for a long time? do the stretch routine noted above.
10. Sometimes using a golf ball or a tennis ball on your instep will help losen the tight facii.
11. A doctor friend offered to shoot me up with cortisone - which I declined. Another friend with PF tried it said that it was extremely painful and it did not help him. But then again, some things work for some people...
Good luck - I feel for you, but the good news is that it will get better!
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