Guys. I just finished Felicity (on Netflix). And now I have all the feels. Is it bad that I want to start it over again? I’m just really, really glad that I didn’t watch it when it was actually on because I would have wondered where the hell my Ben was when I got to college.
I’ve been battling plantar fasciitis for a while now.
[ ^ that, for those who don’t know, is plantar fasciitis / source ]
I didn’t really pay much attention to foot pain before I sprained my ankle. I thought being sore was par for the course when pounding the pavement. So I’m not quite sure when my plantar fasciitis developed. After I sprained my ankle I became a huge hypochondriac who thinks that any ache or pain is an injury (which is very, very annoying). But, plantar fasciitis is, in fact, an injury. I have finally started treating it like one, and I’m working on adding more recovery exercises to my regime. Here’s the rundown of what I’m currently doing to support recovery. Hopefully this list will help somebody else who’s been suffering. I know a lot of these things I’ve come to via word of mouth, and they’ve worked.
Though, I’m resting differently than you might expect. I’m continuing to do my workouts; but, I’m avoiding jump work. I’m running, but sticking to lower miles. I’m not logging a ton of walking miles. Additionally, I’m off my feet more hours at work. I’m one of those lucky souls who has a standing desk, and it’s convertible, so I’m spending some of my day sitting now. I stand for about an hour at a time, then sit for an hour or so at a time. I haven’t been keeping track, but that’s about the threshold I have for both options at this point. I need a laying-down desk …
I’ve got two great chiropractors who practice two different kinds of chiropractic. One practices NUCCA, which focuses on aligning the vertebrae in your neck properly to put the rest of your body in working order. The other works with traditional chiropractic. Why two different kinds of chiropractic? Because I respond differently to different methods. I saw immediate results from NUCCA with my allergies, sinuses, and the length of my legs (my right leg is an inch shorter than the left when out of alignment). But I continue to feel a bigger difference immediately after being traditionally adjusted in my hips, lower back, knees, and shoulders.
I started getting massage specifically to help my legs recover from years of running / exercising. I have yet to get a full-body massage. I got a 2-hour massage a week ago, and we worked mostly on my calves and feet. Someday, I will get a full-body massage, but not until a lot of my issues are worked out. My hips / IT bands responded really well to the first several sessions of massage, so I’m hoping that my calves and feet will respond the same after a few more sessions.
My NUCCA chiropractor introduced me to this. I’ve posted briefly about the Graston Technique in the past. I maintain that this was the single most effective treatment (next to strengthening and changing shoes) in healing my sprained ankle. I like to think of Graston as a more targeted version of foam rolling and massage. It breaks up adhesions in the soft tissue allowing it to heal more effectively. My ankle lost a ton of mobility when I was allowing it to heal the traditional way. I regained nearly all of my mobility in my sprained ankle after using the Graston technique once a week for a couple of months. My ankle still bugs me sometimes after long runs, but I can use it to its fullest. I’ve been getting graston on the bottom of my feet (which I hate!), my IT bands (one time released my IT bands better than years of foam rolling), and as of last week, on my calves. I’m currently doing an experiment and only getting graston done on one side since both sides are affected. I want to see which side seems to heal faster / more effectively.
I’m a huge believer in foam rolling. I also don’t think I’d see as much of a benefit from massage therapy or graston if I wasn’t foam rolling at home in addition to help build muscle memory and release some more tension. I foam roll my entire leg, focusing mostly on the IT band (which helps alignment) and calf muscles. I’ve gotten more targeted on my calf muscles and have been using a ball (tennis ball, racquetball or a small medicine ball). I have two foam rollers, a softer one, and a hard one. The softer one is for areas that are sore so I’m not just tearing into those. The harder one is to break up tighter areas. I’ve been rolling at different speeds so I can see how my muscles respond.
I’ve been working to strengthen all the muscles that support running so I have some shock absorption besides my feet. The one area I’m lacking is my feet themselves because it’s really weird (to me) to strengthen feet — it’s not something you do in the gym. I’m going to start scrunching a towel, or at least making the motion, with my feet several times a day. I’m sitting at my desk, so why not make the most of it?
Sleeping on my back with a pillow under my knees
I point my toes in my sleep. I don’t mean to. It just happens. Pointing your toes puts your calf muscles in a shortened position, which makes them tighter. If I sleep on my back (which is HARD — I’m a side-sleeping fool), my feet don’t point. If I put a pillow under my knees I don’t roll around as much and my knees don’t lock.
Since I’m sitting a lot now, I need to focus on how I sit. My feet are both on the floor, with my hips are slightly higher than my knees. This doesn’t really have much to do with plantar fasciitis, other than the fact that I’m not letting myself put my legs up under my chair like I used to when I sat all day at work (not since 2008). However, sitting properly will also ensure that other old injuries don’t flare up (IT band, psoas) while I’m spending a lot of time sitting, and will help me avoid other sitting-related issues (other than sheer laziness that consumes me at about 3 PM, which is why I seriously HATE sitting!).
I alluded to this in my downward dog post last week: I’m stretching as much as possible. My plantar fasciitis is affected most by my tight calves. I’ve been stretching my calves a lot every day when I’m standing at my desk. I stretch my calves first thing in the morning. I also stretch my feet when I think about it (I need to be better about this). And I’ve been doing toe touches every time I go to the bathroom at work. I’ve also added a downward-facing dog pose to my daily routine.
The jury is out on what is more appropriate for plantar fasciitis: extra support or minimal support. It really depends on your body and your feet. For me, extra support has proven to be really, really bad (and lead to a host of other problems). Traditional medicine tells you to wear shoes with heavy support as much as possible. My chiropractors and physical therapists have told me the opposite. Heavy support seems to make the condition worse for me. I wear my vibram five-fingers shoes when I can (walking, lifting, hiking), but not for more than an hour at a time. I’ve gotten new running shoes that are fit appropriately for my feet (this is another post entirely, which I will finally get to soon). They have low support, but are cushioned in the forefoot since I’m a forefoot striker. I don’t wear outfit-appropriate shoes to work anymore. Running shoes, vibrams, or TOMs only.
I don’t know if I buy into these or not, but I bought some. At this point I’m desperate so I’m going to try anything and everything that might help. I got a pair of sleeves (not socks — compression on my arch makes it worse) and they should be coming in the mail today. I’m excited to try them out on a run this afternoon. Supposedly these should help circulation and recovery time. Some people wear them during the work day and at night. I’ll let you know what I think. I’m not looking forward to the weird tanlines I’ll get from running in them …
I’ve been using KT tape and Rock tape (I prefer rock tape — it stays on longer than KT tape, even after runs and showers) to build a little extra support into my feet. Specifically, I use this method minus the part over the arch (because that makes it worse for me).
I’ve been icing my feet with some frequency in the past week or so. This helps the inflammation.
Epsom Salt Soaking
I caved and got this $20 foot spa from WalMart a few weeks back. I’ve coupled that with some epsom salts and have been soaking / spa-ing for 30 minutes a few times a week.
Bio-freeze / menthol muscle rub
Ibuprofen / arnica
I have finally started turning to western medicine for this issue. On days where my feet really hurt, I’ve been taking 1 dose of ibuprofen or arnica. Arnica is an herb, and it seems to work well. It doesn’t mess with my stomach in the way that ibuprofen does, but it’s also not cheap.
Vitamin C helps produce collagen, which helps your body create some of your soft tissue. I was taking extra vitamin C with my ankle sprain, and I’m going to start it up again since it seemed to help my ankle sprain. Vitamin C is water soluble, so there is no reason not to take extra vitamin C. It can’t hurt!
Omega 3 fatty acids have been proven to help inflammation. So I’ve been taking a supplement on days that I’m not eating omega-3 rich foods.
What I’m not going to do: SURGERY. This is not an option for me. Period. I believe that there are other ways to heal, and I’m already seeing that firsthand.
I’m also not going to get a cortizone shot because over time that will diminish the tissue in the feet and could lead to rupturing of the plantar fascia altogether. It’s just plain stupid to ever get a cortizone shot to continue to participate in athletics. Usually people who do that (from my experience) haven’t tried many (0r any) other routes because it would mean stepping back from athletics. Quick fixes aren’t usually good solutions.
I think that’s it. I know. I’m doing a LOT of things here. Let’s hope that I’m on the path to having happy feet.
Ever battled plantar fasciitis?
other chronic pain?