Fix your plantar fasciitis pain
Plantar means the bottom of your foot. The suffix ‘itis’ means inflammation. This condition can give you a little tenderness in spots and in severe cases, it can keep you from walking. You can fix this problem easily if you are willing to make some changes. Here is the quick breakdown on some factors that affect this condition and ways to fix it.
Footwear: Wear good shoes, not necessarily the fashionable kind. Are you walking around in flip-flops wondering why your feet hurt? Most of the outfit investment should be in the shoes. The right footwear for the right job is essential to reducing and eliminating symptoms. Wear your best shoes for the most demanding activities. Nowadays, you can purchase quality, supportive footwear that is appropriate for business. If you have had plantar fasciitis (PF), you’ll never “cheap-out” on footwear again.
Stretching: Of course you don’t stretch enough. You should stretch your calves more and strengthen your shin muscles to antagonize the calf tightness. But once you have PF, all the stretching in the world may not be enough.
Strengthening: Improve the strength of your shin muscles to antagonize tight (short) calves.
Myofascial release: Almost any implement will work, (a golf ball, massage, foam rolling, my thumbs, etc.). You must stimulate the ischemic contraction by gently smashing the affected tissue somehow. This brings blood and lymph to the affected tissue and removes congestion. Manipulation is the key to healing muscle and fascia. There are many therapy techniques to fix this problem, if you are willing to change your behaviors.
Ice: Nope! Go with heat instead. Ice is an analgesic only. It does nothing for chronic injuries but numb the pain. Use ice for acute injuries for 24-48 hours, then go to heat.
Inserts: Proper shoe inserts will help. What makes a good insert is a matter of opinion. Of course I think the A-Lines that I sell are the best, but people get good results with others. Dr. Scholl’s “cushioning,” however, is not the answer. I hoped that 2 millimeters of China’s cheapest foam would help my medical condition, too!
Chronic dehydration: This is easy to achieve in this environment. Nobody really knows how much water to drink, but the first reason for fatigue, muscle cramping and restricted tissue is usually dehydration. I tell my clients to drink 8 ounces per hour that you are awake.
Overuse: I know that this is crazy, but you could be trying to do too much while wearing flip-flops.
The barefoot thing: It works for some, but why would you walk on synthetic surfaces barefoot and expect good results? Go barefoot if you walk on natural surfaces. Your foot doesn’t articulate properly on synthetic surfaces because it was made for dirt, sand and rocks. The barefoot thing will not help PF; in fact it often makes it worse.
Weird nighttime braces: These do help. By the time you are in the need of a weird nighttime brace, you may want to consider the factors that got you here in the first place. This is why we need to stop putting the pressure on medical professionals to “fix” things for which we will not change our behavior. The night brace is one of those things. If your tissue is so inflamed that it is literally shrinking overnight to the point where you have to brace it to stay normal, you probably should have listened to your trainer. That is the primary “reverse psychology” purpose of the weird nighttime brace.
Alcohol, coffee and soda pop: Although wonderful, these are all dehydrating agents and should be avoided; except for alcohol and coffee.
Denial: Once you start to get symptoms, share your suspicions with a qualified individual to get an objective opinion. Don’t expect to see a reduction in symptoms without changing behavior. Stuff doesn’t just go away. Letting it go too long makes repairing it much more difficult.
Biomechanics: Mastering this element will make the biggest difference in managing PF next to rest. Proper body movement fixes and prevents most structural problems. You can learn this from a good physical therapist, personal trainer, yoga instructor, etc.
Rest: Running hard all day on concrete floors in bad shoes stressed out and dehydrated describes many of us type-A, overachiever psychos. I don’t know of any type B personalities who develop plantar fasciitis because it is impossible for them to get to that point based on their personality type. Rest (the valley’s most dreaded four-letter word) will help more than anything.
Steve Wells is a personal trainer and co-owner of Midland Fitness. His column appears on Tuesdays.
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