Plantar Fasciitis: what it is & how to prevent or treat it!

January 20, 2015
feet, lady's feet, pedicure, foot spa
feet, lady's feet, pedicure, foot spa

Look after your feet! Your feet take you where your heart wants to go! Don’t take them for granted.

One great thing about having a blog is the ability to write about issues that affect me.  I can research and learn and then share the knowledge I gain.  I can also get feedback and advice from others.  It’s awesome!  Today I am most definitely talking about an issue that is very much affecting my life at present. Maybe it’s affecting you too, or has in the past, or possibly you are at risk. Either way, I hope what I write here will be of help to someone.

If Plantar Fasciitis (PF) was a recipe, then I had all the ingredients required to make a good PF: I’m middle-aged, I’m overweight, and I had a sudden increase in activity (trying to do the right thing to address the being overweight thing!). Mix all that together and voila – I cooked myself up a very painful case of PF. Aren’t I clever?!

In saying that though – you don’t have to be middle-aged to get PF. You can be a healthy, active and young person, so you might like to read on!

My PF is quite severe in my left foot and mild-moderate in my right foot.  It has really stopped me in my tracks, made me feel old, and caused me a lot of pain!  It has meant I’ve had to stop my daily walks which is not good for me or for little Miss Ava (my younger CKCS dog and walking partner).

Before I get into my symptoms and treatment, let me explain what Plantar Fasciitis is, what the causes and risk factors are, and ways in which you could prevent yourself from getting it!

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

plantar-fasciitis

The plantar fascias are the ligaments that run along the sole of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the metatarsals (bones just behind the toes.)

Its job is to support the arch of your foot, and to put some “spring in your step.” But, unfortunately it’s the sight of an all-too-common inflammation that causes intense pain in the heel and across the bottom of the foot.  This inflammation and pain is known as plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is common in middle-aged people. It also occurs in younger people who are on their feet a lot – like athletes, soldiers, factory workers, nurses or teachers. It can happen in one foot or both feet.

Plantar fasciitis is caused by straining the ligament that supports your arch. Repeated strain can cause tiny tears in the ligament. These can lead to pain and swelling.

Did you know that as we age we lose some fat and padding (our natural cushioning) in the soles of our feet and thus are more prone to conditions such as PF? This loss of fat, which provided us with natural cushioning, means that our foot can lengthen/lurch forward somewhat. This in turn stretches the plantar fascia, which leads to strain, tears and inflammation in the ligament and ultimately PF! This is one of the reasons why this condition is common in the middle-aged.

What are the causes and risk factors to getting PF?

I’ve already mentioned some risk factors above but will repeat and list in dot point form.

  • Being middle-aged, and seniors are also at risk due to the ligament and bone issues common to those of older years
  • Being overweight
  • Wearing poor quality footwear
  • Overuse or strain by athletes, particularly runners but also walkers, joggers, basketball players, and tennis players. Basically any sport that requires quick or repetitive movements combined with impact on the heel and arch of the foot can lead to plantar fasciitis.
  • Being in a job that requires long periods of standing or walking

How can I prevent myself from getting PF?

If you’ve looked at the list of risk factors above and recognised yourself there somewhere, here are some steps to help prevent the onset of PF:

  • Take care of your feet!  Wear shoes with good arch support and heel cushioning. If your work requires you to stand on hard surfaces, stand on a thick rubber mat to reduce stress on your feet.
  • Do exercises to stretch the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel. This is especially important before sports, but it is helpful for nonathletes as well. Ask your doctor about recommendations for a stretching routine.
  • Try and stay at a healthy weight for your height.
  • Establish good exercise habits. Increase your exercise levels gradually, and wear supportive shoes.
  • If you run, alternate running with other sports that will not cause heel pain.
  • Put on supportive shoes as soon as you get out of bed. Going barefoot or wearing slippers puts stress on your feet.

I certainly did NOT do a lot of those listed above.  All my life I have been most comfortable barefooted, only putting shoes on when leaving the house!

What are the symptoms of PF? What does PF feel like?

  • Intense heel pain, especially first thing in the morning and after a long day.
  • Difficulty walking or standing for long periods without pain
  • Generally, the sharp pain associated with plantar fasciitis is localized to the heel, but it can spread forward along the plantar fascia and back into the Achilles tendon.

I feel a lot of pain in the arch of my left foot in and in my right foot I feel some pain in the ball of my foot and in my toes! My heels are in pain mostly first thing in the morning when I get out of bed. There have been a couple of nights where my feet have throbbed in pain and felt like they were on fire. It kept me awake and therefore required me to take painkillers. These occasions were both after I went on long afternoon beach walks (when away at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast).  Though I mostly tried to stick to walking on the hard sand up near the water (much less painful for my PF), I had no choice but to also walk through quite a lot of soft sand to get on and off the beach. Ouchy!

plantar fasciitis arch pain

While severe cases can result in chronic pain that lasts all day, the most common flare ups occur the first thing in the morning, making those first steps out of bed a form of torture (not to mention making you feel like you are 150 years of age!), and in the evening after having spent a day on your feet.

How do you treat Plantar Fasciitis?

Google is full of ways to treat PF (and you can go there also to see what it says) but I’ll just tell you what my Podiatrist told me to do.

First up though – I did nothing for ages, except to avoid walking barefoot by wearing thongs (flip flops to those of you in other parts of the world!) around the house and my normal shoes for when I go out, and my PF only got worse!  So trust me, ignoring PF and hoping it will go away does not work.  You need to get an action plan in place!

A couple of weeks ago, I bought myself a pair of Birkenstocks (AU$119.95 at Footgear) and due to the awesome arch support the pain in my feet started to improve immediately!

I had to wait awhile but I have finally been to see a Podiatrist. He strapped my feet up and it feels awesome – such great support which alleviates that vulnerable feeling.

Mins PF Feet
Left:  My new Birkenstocks   Right: Feet strapped after seeing the Podiatrist

Excuse the feet shots (I think feet are unattractive things!) but they kinda go hand in hand with Plantar Fasciitis! 😉

I’m to keep that strapping on for three (3) days. Meanwhile, here is the rest of our action plan:

  • Get myself a pair of FS6 Compression Foot Sleeve (like a toe-less sock)
  • Get an inner sole (with good arch support) for my ASICS joggers. A visit to The Athlete’s Foot coming up.
  • He did mention getting myself a pair of Ortho Heel Sandals for around home (keeping my Birkenstocks for going out). I’ll check them out when I’m at The Athlete’s Foot but not sure that I want to outlay the money ($90++) as the Birk’s could probably do me for home and when I’m out.
  • First thing in the morning before I get out of bed I need to do hold a towel across both my feet and pull towards me, stretching the plantar fascia, archilles tendon and my calf muscles, preparing them for the fact I’m about to get up and walk (so hopefully I won’t hobble to the loo like an old lady pretty please!)
  • I need to do wall stretches (a variety of stretches my Podiatrist showed me to stretch my calf muscles at various points – low to stretch the archilles tendon and higher through the calf muscle and back of the knee) – morning and evening.  These are difficult to explain without diagrams but if you consult Mr Google you are sure to come up with heaps!
  • Ice my feet – 1 to 2 times daily. Grab a bag of frozen peas (I’ll probably use ice packs we have), wrap a tea towel around it and put my foot on it for up to 15 minutes.
  • Massage – ohhhh I do like a massage! The Podiatrist told me my husband MUST massage my feet in a particular way (shown to me) every evening. He did mention that if said husband would not do it, I could roll my feet over a golf ball but lets pretend we didn’t hear that bit. My husband MUST massage my feet every evening because the Podiatrist said so! 😉
  • Go back to the Podiatrist in one month for a review.

The best thing of all is that the Podiatrist did say that though the healing process can sometimes be lengthy, it WILL eventually go away!  Yay!  He also said that once I have got my FS6 Compression Foot Sleeve and an inner sole with good arch support for my joggers (good pair of ASICS fitted and purchased at The Athletes Foot) – I can resume my walks – though he says to start with a walk every second day rather than every day!

Have you had Plantar Fasciitis?  How long were you in pain?  Was your treatment plan similar to mine?  Any further advice to add for fellow PF sufferer’s?

I’ll post again on PF to let you know of my progress.  I’ll let you know what treatments I think have helped and those that I don’t think have helped and anything new that I am finding is helping me.

Ciao for now,

Min-Signature

NOTE:  Apart from the two images of my own feet, the other images used in this post are not my own and have been hyperlinked to their source.

[This post is linked up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT]

You Might Also Like

30 Comments

  • Reply Renee Wilson January 20, 2015 at 6:11 am

    Oh my Gosh, Min. That sounds incredibly painful. I feel so sorry for you. Thank God it eventually will go away. I’m glad the Birkenstocks are helping. At the end of the day I often have sore feet, but when I look at the shoes I’m wearing there is no wonder. A lot of those cheap shoes on the market these days are like you’re walking straight onto the road. They have no support whatsoever. I think I’ll have to pay better attention to what I’m wearing. Good luck with the recovery. #teamIBOT

    • Reply Min January 20, 2015 at 9:05 am

      Thank you Renee! It hasn’t been pleasant and it makes me feel old when I’m hobbling about on painful feet but I am so relieved to know that with the proper care, it will eventually go away! I never knew about plantar fasciitis until I got it so therefore I was not ever aware of the risks. I wish I had been educated and warned because if I had, I would have been taking far better care of my feet to avoid this ever happening. xo

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee January 20, 2015 at 6:13 am

    I’m in a FB group with a lot of runners (I’m not a runner) and that seems to be a regular topic of conversation….very, very painful, I’m lead to believe….

    • Reply Min January 20, 2015 at 9:09 am

      Hi Lydia – yes runners are at high risk of getting it which is why it’s so important they wear good supportive and cushioned runners and alternate their exercise program to give their feet and heels a break. I’m amazed how many people are coming out of the woodwork to say they have or have had or have a friend or partner who has or has had PF! Prior to getting it myself, I had never heard of it! Yep – it is very painful – some days more painful than others. Since wearing my Birkenstocks and giving my feet good and proper arch support, my pain has improved a lot though. Fingers crossed that ALL pain will be gone soon! 😉 xo

  • Reply Kathy January 20, 2015 at 10:01 am

    You’ve certainly done your research on this Min and hope you can get on top of it – it’s such a pain when you are trying to exercise to be stopped in your tracks, literally. I have had foot pain on and off when I run, but haven’t been running lately to test it. At yoga there is a stretch that targets the PF, but it is painful – you press your toes into the floor and sit back on your heels and try to stay there for 2 mins – kills my toes and also really stretches up through the arches. I know heels are usually to blame when I get foot pain, but I still like wearing them.

    • Reply Min January 20, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      It sure is a pain to be stopped in my tracks Kathy! I was in a good routine with my walking. I guess I’ll get a good routine back again soon *touch wood*!! Thank you for explaining that yoga stretch for the PF. I’ll give it a go! I’ll do pain if it helps! We shall see! 🙂 x

  • Reply Tracy January 20, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Ahhhh…this is my life right now as well. My left foot ended up in excruciating pain and I ended up heading off the physiotherapist to get this thing dealt with. Mine began, I believe, with spraining both my ankles a couple of years ago. Last summer when I started to wear thongs the PF started up, although not too unbearable. This summer I wore thongs all of four times and then spent 10 days doing the tourist thing in Tasmania. Recipe for pain anyone?

    I am icing, stretching and doing wall stretches as well, and using some voltaren gel as well. It’s a little better this week, but still terribly painful. I have new orthoheel footbeds in my runners and I am to wear them all the time. I’ve been looking at homeped shoes online and need to investigate further to see if they will provide me with the shoe support I seem to need…now that I’m middle aged and bit heavier than I would like to be.

    • Reply Min January 20, 2015 at 6:04 pm

      Sorry to hear you are a fellow PF sufferer Tracy! Funny you did the tourist thing in Tasmania coz that is what I’m planning on doing in late April! Hope my PF is gone by then *fingers crossed*. I’ll make sure I have good shoes for all the walking I plan on doing over there! I haven’t used the voltaren gel – good idea though for those particularly painful times! I want to look for some closed in shoes that will be good for the colder weather and for all the walking I have planned for when we go to Tasmania. I hope your PF and mine goes away soon!!

  • Reply EssentiallyJess January 20, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Oh I hope it doesn’t take too long to fix itself for you. It sounds awful!
    I’ve never had it, but I have ruptured ligaments in my ankle that occasionally cause me grief. I always wear supportive shoes now.

    • Reply Min January 20, 2015 at 6:06 pm

      It’s pretty nasty Jess. Makes you realize just how much we take our feet for granted! OMG ruptured ligaments in your ankle sound painful. Yep good support and comfort are way more important in a shoe than vanity for me these days. 😉

  • Reply Nikki @ Wonderfully Women January 20, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    That was me last year! Very painful and took 6 months or so to heal, but with the help of inserts I got from the chemist that had a very high support for my arch and these cute little arch support straps from Futuro that I wore around home with thongs or similar style shoes, it eventually just disappeared. Hopefully to never return! xx N

    • Reply Min January 20, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      6 months or so – oh dear – well I’m not really surprised. I knew it would take a while to get rid of it. Thanks for the tips of the inserts from the chemist and arch support straps (hadn’t heard of those). I’ll investigate both. I’m actually walking around home with my new pair of FS6 Compression Foot Sleeves on with my Birkenstocks. I look so sexy NOT! lol I hope PF never returns for you either Nikki! xo

  • Reply Bec @ The Plumbette January 20, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Min I’m so glad you have written about this because I’m suffering from plantar fasciitis in my right foot. It started after I had Phoebe and I think it has something to do with the epidural. When I had Esther I had an epidural and got plantar fasciitis in both my feet. It went away after 12 months and I got back down to my prebaby weight. When I had Magdalene I had a spinal block where I had an allergic reaction but my feet were fine after birth. When I had Phoebe I had a combined spinal block and epidural and I remember my right side going got when the Epi went in. 6 months later it still hurts first thing in the morning and when I’m on my feet all day with the girls. I will wear my Birkenstocks more after your recommendation and will do the stretching exercises in the morning to prepare my foot to be walked on. Plantar fasciitis is common in pregnant women too because of the baby weight gain. I’m hoping once I lose the baby weight it will go like last time but it makes it difficult to exercise.

    • Reply Min January 20, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      Oh Bec – it never occurred to me that pregnant women would be at risk of getting PF. Of course they are though – with the additional baby weight etc. How awful for you to have it when you have a baby and little ones to look after. I had a spinal block for one pregnancy delivery and an epidural for the other. One of them I had an itchy all over reaction (can’t remember which one) so the doc used the other for the next delivery. I didn’t get any PF though and had never heard of it until I’ve got it myself. I’m glad this post gave you a little info to help you recover, and I do hope all PF is gone for you soon! xo (p.s. yes it does make it so difficult to exercise!)

  • Reply Maxabella January 20, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    It hasn’t flared up for a while, but I am PF sufferer. It seems to run in my family – small feet on a tall person combined with very high arches = set up for disaster. What a comprehensive guide this is, Min. Thank you. x

    • Reply Min January 20, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      Thanks Bron! Gosh another PF sufferer and to think I had never heard of it. Hope you don’t get it again *fingers crossed*!! xo

  • Reply Janet aka Middle Aged Mama January 20, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    Min, I’d never heard of it and after reading this I will be careful of my feet so I don’t get it! My problem is bursitis (inflammation) in my shoulder, it’s really getting me down lately 🙁

    • Reply Min January 20, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      I hadn’t heard of it either Janet … till I got it! Yes do look after your feet because you don’t want to get this. It’s painful and it makes doing stuff very difficult! I remember you having bursitis but didn’t realize you are still suffering with it. Hope you find a solution soon. Pain is not cool!! xo

  • Reply Vicki @ Knocked Up and Abroad January 20, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Oh that doesn’t sound comfortable at all Min. The little things we have to put up with in this life hey? I have not heard of it before and yes, I really should take better care of my feet x

    • Reply Min January 21, 2015 at 9:24 am

      You never know what the next challenge is that is around the corner Vicki! This will be in my past soon. Positive thinking! 😉 x

  • Reply Ingrid @ Fabulous and Fun Life January 20, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks for the research and advice. I’m going to tell my husband I need preventative feet massages from now on also to stop me from getting PF. Doubt he will believe me but worth a try!

    • Reply Min January 21, 2015 at 9:24 am

      LOL – yes you tell that hubby of yours that preventative PF foot massages are essential! 😉

  • Reply Tegan January 20, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Oh…all of this sounds very familiar. It started for me when we were on holidays last year but I have kind of been ignoring it and hoping it will go away with weightloss. I do have a referral for a podiatrist too so I will see what they have to say.

    • Reply Min January 21, 2015 at 9:26 am

      I was ignoring it sort of too Tegan – hoping it would go away. The only thing I did to help myself was to ensure I always had something on my feet (no walking around barefoot) but it only got worse. Glad to hear you have an appointment with a podiatrist. Good luck! 🙂 x

  • Reply Lisa January 20, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    That sounds so painful, I have heard of PF but haven’t suffered from it, I get shin splints occasionally but nothing what you are experiencing. Hope you feel better soon xx

    • Reply Min January 21, 2015 at 9:27 am

      Thanks Lisa! It is painful. I have had shin splints before too – mainly when I was trying to be a runner (I am so not meant to be a runner)! 😉 x

  • Reply Lisa Mckenzie January 21, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    Yes I’ve had it Min, I’m not overweight but do walk on slate all day,never go barefoot but have a bad knee problem and a neck disc problem so my body is probably out of whack.I found the exercises helped and if I wear the same shoes day after day I get it back so I don’t wear the same ones,my daughter also has it and orthotics from the chemist helped me,good luck it’s a horrible painful thing xx

    • Reply Min January 22, 2015 at 8:37 am

      You are lucky to not be overweight Lisa. I’m having a real problem with that at the moment! Very hard to shift and the PF hasn’t helped. We have hard tiles in our house apart from the loungeroom and bedrooms so I’m in my birkenstocks all day. They’ve really helped. I must check out the orthotics from the chemist. Yes it is a horrible painful thing isn’t it. Really hoping it will be gone or at least much improved before we go to Tasmania for a holiday in late April! xo

  • Reply Krystal January 30, 2015 at 9:33 am

    Oh Min this sounds horrible!! Have you heard of the Five Finger shoes by Vibram? They look a little weird but since I started wearing them I find I have much less pain in my feet and shins after long walks and exercise. A lot of people laugh at me wearing them but I don’t care – they are so comfortable!! Expensive – but worth it 🙂 I hope you start healing soon.

    • Reply Min January 30, 2015 at 3:48 pm

      Thanks Krystal! It hasn’t been pleasant but I am feeling some improvement so I am hopeful! I want it all cleared up before we go to Tasmania in late April. I plan on lots of walking!! I haven’t heard of the Five Finger Shoes but I will Google search – thank you! I don’t care what I look like. Comfort and pain free comes before vanity for me! lol

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    %d bloggers like this: