Friday, July 16, 2010

5 Steps to heal plantar fasciitis (after getting hit by a car)

It's been exactly two and a half months since my last blog post about treating plantar fasciitis and it is with great disapointment that I must report that MY HEEL STILL HURTS. And, you know that really sucks and I'm tired of blogging about it and it's not entirely my fault (or my heel's fault) and I wish to God that I could blog about being CURED of plantar fasciitis, instead.

(Sorry about the all-caps words. I just wanted to get my point across that if you are tired about this topic of mine, I am very, very tired of it.

If you are new to plantar fasciitis and are looking for treatments that work, please see my earlier post: "5 Steps to Heal Plantar Fasciitis: Cloud Care from Running Twitter Friends" or go see a physical therapist or athletic trainer who specializes in healing running injuries – or a podiatrist– with good references from runners. If I learned anything from this year of chronic plantar fasciitis pain is that getting a good reference from a runner is key. I didn't a year ago. And, I still have plantar fasciitis.

The reason why I haven't written earlier is two-fold and related:
  1. I got hit by a car while riding my road bike on May 15, 2010
  2. I had to stop doing my "5 Steps to Heal Plantar Fasciitis" after the accident
Because of the accident I have not been able to follow the "5 Steps..." for the past eight months. Before the accident, according to my orthopedic surgeon foot specialist on my last visit in mid-February, I had a calcaneal contusion and still had plantar fasciitis – but it was going away. I was getting better and was advised to keep doing what I was doing and to gradually build up my running mileage from jogging a block, to a mile, to two miles, etc. Two months of doing this, on my first road ride since December,  I got hit by a car. :(

However, I believe my "cloud care" steps to get rid of plantar fascitis came from real people who really recovered from plantar fasciitis.  I found them at my Twitter account @MultisportMama by posting a tweet: "How did you recover from plantar fasciitis?"

So, that being said, here are the 5 Steps to Heal Plantar Fasciitis that worked for other people*:
  1. Stretch (gastrosoleus/calves/hamstrings): Increase flexibility by daily stretches and by wearing night splint when sleeping

    (From the accident I had road rash on my legs and elbow from hitting the pavement and a puncture wound that got infected on my left ankle. That means I could not wear a night splint. Consequently, my arch stiffened up while sleeping and I experienced heel and arch pain with the first foot step out of bed each morning. Sound familiar? The night splint was really helping me keep the fascia loose before the accident.)

  2. Strength train: Heal raises, towel pulling with toes, core workouts, etc

    (After the accident I had to stop weight training for about 6 weeks because of my right strained wrist and hand, a wicked cervical (neck) strain from my helmet hitting the pavement, and a strained left shoulder. I couldn't carry anything in my right hand for weeks and, doing push-ups, pull-ups and using free weights were just not possible.)

  3. Increase circulation: Get deep tissue massage, Rolfing, ultrasound in the affected area or by rolling your foot on tennis or golf ball each day

    (With a banged up body trying to heal itself, the idea of causing more muscular and tendon pain with deep tissue work seemed like a bad idea the first few weeks after the accident.)

  4. Wear custom orthotics

    (Yay! The one thing I could do consistently-- except that week when my foot swelled up with an infection from the heel wound--was wear my new custom othotics. They relieved some of the pressure on my arch but I can honestly, say that used alone without the other four healing methods, didn't work.)

  5. Cross-train: Swim or bike

    (My bike was trashed and I'm still waiting for the insurance settlement to get it fixed. With the road rash and a seeping icky infected punture wound on my left heel at that, swimming was out of the question for a while.)

Now, it's eight weeks since the bike accident.  I've made an appointment with a podiatrist recommended by a running friend. In the meantime, I will be back at the "5 Steps to Heal Plantar Fasciitis" again (with the exception #1's "wear a night splint" since the abrasion on my heel is still sore and number 5's "bike"). Barring any other ridiculous miss-fortune (with my luck lately, who knows?), I will post a status report on the results of the 5 Steps to Recover from Plantar Fasciitis. Believe me, I'm motivated get running again. :)

QUESTION: How did you recover from plantar fasciitis? Please let me know by posting a comment. I may try it. If it works for me I will happily sing your (or the product or services you used) praises right here. Please, only first person experiences.

Best wishes and health and have a great injury-free summer!

:) A

*The 5 Steps To Heal Plantar Fasciitis methods have been validated by peer-reviewed medical research that I have access to as a graduate student. The latest research suggests increasing flexibility, circulation and using orthotics and anti-inflammatories to help that crummy little fascia tendon heal itself. The medical research and Runner's World running experts also suggest supporting the arch during the healing process. They also recommend  s-l-o-w-l-y working up to barefoot or minimalist running if you are injury free. However, with plantar fasciitis, barefoot and minimalist running like a Tarahumara (as mentioned in the book Born to Run by Chris McDougall), running in minimalist shoes like Vibrams and running on the beach are definite no-nos. It puts additional strain on an already strained arch.