Monday, November 22, 2010

(Almost) Happy Feet: Steps for plantar fasciitis recovery & good shoes

I still have plantar fasciitis (PF) in my left foot but I'm finally seeing progress again. This is since the disasters earlier this year that have pushed back the healing process.  In January I tried running a few miles (2 to 4) per my doctor's okay after having my PF foot immobilized in a cast for a month (in October'09) followed by three months of physical therapy and a cortisone shot (November thru December'09). I ended up with a calcaneal contusion (bone bruise in my heel) and plantar fasciitis all over again. While riding my road bike in May, I got hit by a van and between the road rash, an infected abrasion on my ankle, bashed up hand, and whip lash from hitting the pavement that day, I wasn't able to train or do the PT exercises for about 8 weeks. Argh! So, 2010 will not be my fondest year.  After doing core and strength workouts in the gym with an athletic trainer beginning in July and getting the foot treated by running injury specialist chiropractor once a week in mid-October this year, the PF is finally getting better. And, I'm finally starting to much feel better physically and mentally.

If you are suffering from plantar fasciitis, I have a lot of empathy for you. Don't ignore that heel pain! I did two years ago and that is how I got into this situation. I've had to deal with this running injury off and on since December 2008. Finally, it's starting to go away. Here is what is working for me...

Plantar Fasciitis Recovery Steps That Seem to Be Working –Finally:
  1. Sleeping with a Strassburg Sock night splint on my PF foot; By keeping the foot stretched in a dorsaflexed position, it allows the damaged fascia tendons to heal in a stretched position that prevents re-tearing every time my arch flexes down when I walk or run (Earlier this year I wore the Swede-O Thermoskin night splint with good results but had to stop after a bike accident since its thick ankle strap irritated the road rash on my left ankle) - every night
  2. Stretching the Achille's tendon every day (and calves and hamstrings) for 30 seconds each day- 1x/day
  3. Core and strength training (upper and lower body) in the gym to develop better running posture and prevent re-injury - 2x/week
  4. Foot strength training with toe-towel pull and other exercises from recommended by my physical therapists, chiropractor and the book Injury Afoot by Patrick Hafner* - 2x/week
  5. Increasing circulation to damaged fasia tendons to expedite healing and optimal tissue alignment (while breaking up the twisted scar tissue) with deep tissue massage, ultrasound or rolling my foot on tennis ball (followed by 10min ice treatment) - 3-4x/week
  6. Cardio workouts in the pool, on an elliptical machine or on my road bike - 2x/week
  7. Good chiropractic therapy by a sports injury specialist at Wilson Chiropractic Clinic in Ventura. This place was recommended to me by someone who had plantar fasciitis and recovered from it (I don't receive a benefit by mentioning this place and haven't told my chiropractor about this post) - 1x/week
  8. Think positive thoughts (thinking positively lowers one's stress hormone levels which enables healing)
  9. Eat highly nutritious foods: A fresh organic fruit smoothie on most mornings followed by a low-processed carbohydrate diet mostly nutrition-rich whole foods (fruits, vegetables, dairy and nuts)  in meals I prepare for my family at home from our local grocery store and CSA farm basket from Ojai 
  10. Wear good shoes: I wear my regular shoes with custom orthotics or the anatomically designed comfortable Kuru shoes** or stylish FitFlops (Both of these footwear companies make shoes that come with anatomically supportive arch supports and heel pads, and they are, honestly, the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn.* ) I had to get rid of all my sandals and flip flops that didn't have arch supports.:(

Weekly Workout Time: Those ten steps translate into a half hour to one hour workout per day– about 5 hours a week. That should be do-able for most people. As a busy parent, who is in a graduate program and who works part-time, this is all I have time for now. This is about half to a third of the time I normally would like to workout each week (10 - 15 hours). Wouldn't that be nice.

Motivation: I try to workout first thing in the morning before I take the kids to school. Also, I register each workout on my free account. Stressing about staying on track with my workouts on is self-motivating and allows me to see progress and trends with workouts the past year.

Full Disclosure:

I promoted several products in this post. For full disclosure, below are the details about my experiences with the two products that I have received free for this review and my relationship each.

*You can find plantar fasciitis recovery and strengthening exercises in the book Injury Afoot: 30 things You Can Do to Relieve Heel Pain and Speed Healing of Plantar Fasciitis by Patrick Hafner. The book is clearly written and features photos of every stretch and strength training exercise recommended by podatrists to recover from plantar fasciits. The author has a degree in kinesiology and has recovered from PF himself. I bought my first copy on and reviewed it earlier this year on a post about minimal shoe and barefoot running. The author Mr. Hafner contacted me after reading my post and offered to send me a free copy. The exercises in the Injury Afoot book worked for me except that I put off wearing good shoes and a custom orthotic the first year. Now, I know better.

**Kuru Shoes sent me a pair of their Halcyon model in October to review on this blog. I wore them at our kids cross-country meets for a few weekends and they are the most comfortable shoes that I have ever worn. They were even more comfortable on my feet than my running shoes with my custom orthotics. I asked a few parent friends what they thought about my free comfy Kurus and here is what they said:

"They look funky...With shoes I don't care what they look like. It's all about comfort for me." ~ Physician and mother of two very speedy little girls on the cross-country team.

"Well, they're earthy looking. I'm not a real earthy person." ~ Local race director and multisport retail store owner

"They're, uh, kind of funny looking. But I like 'em!" ~ Local catering business owner

"You didn't buy those, did you?" ~ Hubby

Oh well, so the particular model they sent me won't be found in a fashion magazine but at least they allow me to walk pain free and are good for my PF recovery.

When recovering from chronic plantar fasciitis (or "plantar fasciosis" as one of the several foot specialists I've seen has called my particular chronic case), the key is doing something every day to help the healing and prevent re-injury. After spending hundreds of dollars on medical care for this running injury, what seems to be finally working is doing basic stuff consistently: Deep tissue work followed by ice treatment, daily stretching, wearing a night splint each night, cross-training and wearing good shoes.

Sadly, I can't walk around barefoot anymore. And running in minimal shoes--at least in the near future-- is out of the question. But I really don't care. I would wear clown shoes if I thought it would help me run again...Really!


  1. I feel bad for you. I am sure there is life after running. At any rate, here's to a complete recovery. God bless. :-)

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