Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dealing with plantar faciitis: an update

After six weeks of following my Everything-but-the-kitchen sink Plantar Faciitis Treatment Plan my foot still hurts.

This is a real bummer.

Briefly, my six week Everything-but-the-kitchen sink Plantar Faciitis Treatment Plan was:
  • Ice pack treatment 2x/day (no longer than 10 minutes each per my doctor friend)
  • Ibuprofen when there's arch/heel pain/inflammation (per my retired PT friend)
  • Wearing shoes with arch supports such as SuperFeet all the time--even at the beach
  • Calf strengthening exercises: positive heal rises 3 sets of 20 and negative (off a step) to exhaustion, for each leg every other day
  • Stretching my calves, hamstrings, glutes--everyday
  • Cross-training everyday by either swimming, road cycling, or 30 minutes on the elliptical machine with weight training of my upper body everyday
  • Survive a pain and straight-talk session once a month with my gifted and no-nonsense Rolfer who keeps repeating "Don't run for two months!"
  • Wearing a night splint (which keeps my arch stretched while sleeping), etc.
  • Complain about it and my inability to do my favorite athlete past time ever: run
So, six weeks later, my heal wasn't hurting at all and I found myself with an hour to myself on Santa Cruz Island at the bottom of my very favorite running trail that meandered to the top of the bluffs. This beautiful trail gives a 360 degree view of the island's windswept hills, sea lion and seabird nesting areas on the rocks below, it's still native chapparel-covered peaks, and a soaring view of the mainland across the Santa Barbara Channel and open ocean with seagulls and pelicans flying by.

I jogged up the hill.

Thirty-five minutes later back at the bottom of the trail, my heal hurt. A lot. Damn.

The soreness went away a few days later so when I found myself at Moonlight Beach, site of my very first full triathlon (Bud Light Series, Olympic Distance, 1988) I thought that a barefoot run on the hard packed sand might be good for it.

I was wrong. After thirty minutes of trying to jog like a Kenyan or Tarahumara (landing on the forefoot, heals flicking up and faster turnover), my heal hurt. A lot. Again.


Okay, so here's my new Kitchen Sink Plantar Faciitis Treatment Plan:

  • See an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in feet, has been recommended by a former patient or medical doctor and who is athletic; the appointment is tomorrow and I'm anticipating it with both hope and fear (What if he can't do anything for me or recommends expensive options such as custom-made insoles that don't work?)
  • Ice pack treatment 2x/day (longer than 10 minutes each per myself)
  • Take two Advil when there's arch/heel pain/inflammation
  • Wear my new Brooks T5 Racing Flats (last year's model to this year's "T6" that I got on sale) with the disco shoelaces with a pair of SuperFeet high arch (green) insoles when I'm not icing my feet, showering, swimming, riding my bike or dreaming.
  • Do calf strengthening exercises every other day (positive heal rises 3 sets of 20 and negative (off a step) to exhaustion, for each leg)
  • Stretch everyday (calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes, lowerback)
  • Cross-train everyday (Swim, bike or do 30 minutes on the elliptical machine with some free weight training of my upper body)
  • Wear a night splint (which keeps my arch stretched while sleeping)
  • Avoid wearing flip-flops, shoes with no arch support or walking barefoot whenever possible
  • Tweet about my Plantar Faciitis woes on Twitter in hopes that some one can offer me some good advice, encouragement or at the very least, commiserate (misery loves company)
Since I've been complaining about my running injury on Twitter, a lot of people have kindly shared advise or words of encouragement. So many people have tweeted me that I am really feeling good right now. My heal still hurts but everything feels great. Especially my heart.

Here's some of the Tweets I've received about treating Plantar Faciitis or offering encouragement:

"@Superfeet@multisportmama Hoping you get some relief – if we can be of any help, please let us know! 1.888.355.3338"

"@RaceSpeed@multisportmama Let me know what you find with your PF. Swimming seems to be good. Enjoy."

"@trijd@multisportmama Hope you get rid of it soon."

"How is the foot? Been able to do any BF running? Would love your thoughts on new post" (Direct Message)

"@RaceSpeed@multisportmama Be careful with this type of injury. Here is a link to wikipedia write-up They say time is best cure."

"@RaceSpeed@multisportmama At bottom of this article is more links to exercises that help RT @faceurfears: Top 10 Sports Injuries -"

"Thanks for the follow. Have you tried Active Release Therapy on your calves for your Plantar Faciitis? Worked instant wonders for my wife." (Direct Message)

"@kchealy@multisportmama you're welcome. I hope your PF resolves's a pesky injury!"

"@RaceSpeed@multisportmama Two points, bear with me. 1) If going on for 6 weeks without running, I worry and definitely worth Drs visit."

"@RaceSpeed@multisportmama 2nd point, I found video claims good for all foot related weakness injuries. Worth a look at."

"@kchealy@multisportmama the thing that helped me with PF was massage. Very painful but effective."

"@boulderrunner@multisportmama in my experience it [visit to a podiatrist] can be [a waste of money]. They love custom footbeds. Don't underestimate rolling on a golf ball and rest"

"@michaelsally@multisportmama well, depends on the dr. Most traditional drs like drugs or the cut & burn approach. Neither solve the cause."

"@runnrgrl@multisportmama pf sucks. Are you getting orthotics. After 3 mths of finetuning, mine helped! Still no more pf since-2 yrs of relief so far"

"@donna_de@multisportmama I'm reading Chi Running on the same topic [barefoot running]!"

"@ajrizza@multisportmama I see runners all time with PF we do foot and ankle exercises, EPAT (check out link) and Orthotics from Foot Management ..."

"@wildcelticrose@multisportmama the story of the accident-shows that an athlete can overcome anything"

"@the17thman@multisportmama @FootPursuita You should try Aqua Aerobics"

"@behindtherabbit@multisportmama thinking a lot about adopting 'less shoe is better' - slowly, to avoid injury. starting with light trainers, then mayB VFFs?"

"@dnorton@multisportmama I will go out on a limb to say a little barefoot running may actually help your PT. It has with mine... YMMV."

"@bmolloy@multisportmama I had PF last year for the first time and it took 3 months to be gone completely. heat moldable orthotics were my cure."

"@RunningQuest@multisportmama That's great! Remember to take it slow, to give yr muscles time to awaken. Good news is they do so pretty quickly."

"@healthyashley@multisportmama I'm sorry about the news (and pain!)... Good luck with your alternative exercises! Can you bike?"

"@turtlescanrun@multisportmama I guess you are with us on that list...It is so hard sometimes..I'm always injured or recovering lately :S"

"@ultrarunnergirl@multisportmama best advice 4 PF i know: keep supportive shoes on all the time, never go barefoot, esp getting up in a.m. or @ nite 2 pee."

"@DCrunnergrrl@multisportmama I know how you feel! Contemplating one of my 1st runs "back" tonite, and trying to make sure I don't jump the gun. So hard!"

"@ncjackIcon_lock@multisportmama awesome! How's the PF??"

"@misb@multisportmama how's the PF? Hope it's settling down! Orthotics, ART, & the night splint cured my chronic case."

"@misb@multisportmama it's Active Release Technique & ; really helps with soft tissue/fascia issues"

"@chicrunner@multisportmama gosh! get better soon. I am stretching as I type ha ha :)"

"@IronmanLongRunr@multisportmama I say tape it strong and give her a go"

Thank you everyone. Just knowing that there are people out there (fellow runners, parents, triathletes, non-athletes--people) who care enough to take a minute to Tweet me a word of encouragement or healing advice for my plantar faciitis really rocks.

It makes me feel better.

:) A


  1. Sounds like you are trying every but the most important thing, changing the way you walk and run. Most orthotics are designed to do this but most people don't understand how to use them. And I don't know how your foot functions but 90% chance you should be walking and running on the outside of your foot allowing your big toe joint to wait till the very end of the gait cycle to touch the ground. Roll your ankles out and make sure your heel bone is directly under your talus and lower leg.

  2. So sorry to hear that your foot still hurts. Regarding running barefoot, it's about the whole stride, not just wearing no shoes. Things like landing your foot underneath you center of gravity, landing on forefoot, then heal, then quickly bouncing back up, having a higher cadence, etc. I found this article from Running Times to describe the whole stride very well. I share it as it will likely help with your foot. Best of luck!

  3. Thank you Clynton for the excellent article found at Running Times that meantions Evolution Running, Chi Running, Pose Technique, etc: ttp://

    Here's a paper written about Dr. Romanov's running mechanics coaching from Pose Tech: I got his name & the Pose Technique from @tracypealspeed

    :) A


Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
:) A