Posts Tagged ‘feet’

I was in the best shape of my life.

I was in my mid 30’s, life was good and I loved to exercise!  The gym was my home away from home, and I always felt so rejuvenated and alive after every workout…

until something stopped me in my tracks.

Enter Plantar Fasciitis (pronounced: PLAN-TAR  FA-SHEE-EYE-TIS).

For those of you who have experienced this or maybe you have it now, I am sooo sorry!  It’s definitely no walk in the park (and actually, a walk in the park is probably the LAST thing you want to do!)

For those of you who are new to the term plantar fasciitis, imagine this:

  • Experiencing sharp pain in your foot with every step you take.

This is no exaggeration!

  • Saying goodbye to your favorite exercises because it’s too painful.  (The exercise classes I craved –  Zumba, Aerobics & Boot Camp – had to be removed from my life.)
  • Grasping the hand rails as you walk up a flight of stairs because the pain is too much to bear (and if there’s an elevator – well, that’s like winning the lottery!)
  • Dreading getting out of bed in the morning because those first few steps you take are probably going to be the most agonizing steps of the day!
  • Retiring those cute shoes for something more sensible and supportive. (And trust me, when all you want is relief, you’ll wear just about anything!)
  • Limited movement.

What is plantar fasciitis, you ask?

It’s the most common cause of heel & foot pain.  The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes that supports the arch of your foot.  It is designed to absorb the high stresses we place on our feet, & sometimes too much pressure can damage or tear the tissues.  Once inflamed, it gets weak and irritated causing intense pain when you stand or walk.

Who gets it?

Me for starters!  My doctor told me that the high impact exercises I enjoyed placed lots of stress on the foot and surrounding tissue causing the pain I experienced.  It is also common in athletes, people who are on their feet a lot, those who have experienced sudden weight gain, or people who wear shoes with inadequate arch support.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever experience pain that would limit me in so many ways!  It made me appreciate the good health and mobility I’d been blessed with years prior, and it made me empathize with all of those people who experience pain on a daily basis.

Not only was it a physical pain, but a mental one as well.  I went through a depression wondering if this was the downward spiral to a life of pain…starting at the ripe old age of 36.

Always being in shape, I also became depressed watching my weight slowly increase the more sedentary I became.

Searching for cures for my plantar fasciitis became my new hobby…actually it became more of an obsession.

After 1.5 long, frustrating, painful, pull-out-my-hair, agonizing years of trying out different treatments hoping one of them would work…I noticed something happening.  The pain ever so slowly started to disappear…until one day, it was gone!

I’m not sure if it was because of one thing I did or a combination of treatments, but below are some changes I made in my life that seemed to help (in no particular order:)

  • Rolled my foot over a frozen water bottle every day for about 10 minutes.
  • Took calcium and glucosamine daily.  (Consult your doctor first!)
  • Rolled a golf ball back & forth under my injured foot & applied pressure.  The massage increased blood flow which helped in the healing process.
  • Purchased shoes with more cushion & better arch support. (Tennis shoes & Crocs worked for me.)  Doctors advice: Do NOT wear flip flops!  They will eventually destroy your feet.
  • Before getting out of bed each morning, I did two stretches:
    • With my injured foot, I wrote out two complete sets of “ABCs” in the air.  I know it sounds strange, but trust me, it eased the pain of those  first few steps.
    • I looped a belt (or towel) around the ball of my foot & pulled my toes back.
  • Visited a chiropractor for about 5 months.  He “stripped” the arch of my foot, meaning that he provided extremely deep, somewhat painful, tissue massage using a specialized tool…but it felt so good after each treatment!
  • Wore a night splint while I slept.  When people sleep, most of the time their feet are pointed down causing the plantar fascia to relax & therefore cause pain.  The night splint stretches your foot through the night.  For me, it wasn’t the most comfortable thing to wear while I slept, but it helped ease the pain of those first few steps in the morning.
  • Wore a heel cup.
  • Went bike riding.  I found that this was one of the few exercises I could do that didn’t hurt my foot too much & helped me to stay somewhat active.
  • Got some Cortisone injections.  I got 3 in the span of a year. (I guess that’s the limit because there is concern that repeated  cortisone shots may cause deterioration of the cartilage within a joint.)   The cortisone injection is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication.  The instant relief I felt was wonderful, but unfortunately for me, it was short lived.  I got my third and final shot a shot a few days before my wedding/honeymoon, and it provided blissful relief for the 3 weeks we trekked around Europe! The crazy thing is (and I kid you not)…the pain resumed the day we arrived home.  I think I willed my foot to be okay on our honeymoon!
  • Rested.  Slowed down.  Stayed off my feet.  I know it’s hard – especially if you lead a very active lifestyle, but your foot needs to recover, and rest is especially important.

But be warned – Plantar Fasciitis can come back at any time, and that is why I still do my foot stretches every morning before getting out of bed, take my calcium and glucosamine, wear supportive shoes and stay away from those high impact exercises.

I found a love of walking the trails around my home and hot yoga.

I hope some of these suggestions help you.  But PLEASE consult with your doctor first.

For those of you battling this painful condition – stay strong & don’t give up!  Recovery, as I discovered, is a slow process requiring lots of patience and persistence, but it can be done!

Wishing you all pain-free & blissful living!

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