Here are some tips on what I did to heal from what is commonly referred to as plantar fasciitis – stabbing heel pain.
Plantar Fasciitis or Plantar Fasciosis
The name plantar fasciitis is actually a misnomer. The suffix ‘itis’ describes inflammation; inflammation is not always present with chronic heel pain.
The more accurate term is plantar fasciosis, ‘osis’ meaning condition or pathological state. Plantar fasciosis is a degenerative disease that may or may not be exacerbated by inflammation.
What Is It?
Plantar fasciosis is a painful condition characterized by a gradual onset of pain beginning on the medial side of the sole of the heel, and with continued neglect extends into the arch. Pain is usually the most intense with the first steps in the morning or after periods of inactivity. (I first experienced this heel pain at the end of a reflexology session, when I started wiggling my feet around while still on the table!)
The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue on the foot, covering most of the plantar surface. Deep to this fascia are intrinsic muscles that also span the length of the foot and insert on the heel in the same area as the plantar fascia. Together, these structures provide support to the foot and aid in shock absorption. Both the fascia and the intrinsic foot muscles are injured in plantar fasciosis.
There are many theories on what causes plantar fasciosis and equally as many ideas on how to correct it. I only know what worked for me and has worked for my clients: targeted reflexology, lifestyle changes/homework and stretching to release impingement of the S1 nerve root branches that enervate the muscles running from the low back to the tips of the toes.
Here are five generally accepted ways to reduce chronic foot pain experienced with PF – that I successfully used:
- Change your shoes – often. Don’t wear the same shoes all-day or everyday. Avoid inflexible soles and excessive toe spring. (Toe spring is an element of shoe design that keeps the toes elevated off the ground when standing and partially when walking. And do I need to say this: avoid high heels.
- Stretch and strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the feet, rather than relying on artificial arch supports.
- Walk barefoot on nature’s floor – the sand, grass and dirt – as often as you can. I walk the beach here in Saint Augustine almost every morning.
- Increase ankle flexibility with regular stretching and strengthening of the calf muscles.
- Incorporate stretching for the hamstrings and the hip lateral rotator muscles into your life.
How to Relieve Chronic Foot Pain
If you know people suffering with chronic foot pain (there are thousands!), than please join me for an upcoming How to Relieve Chronic Foot Pain workshop.
- Learn a multi-faceted approach to helping people with 20 conditions resulting in chronic foot pain.
- Learn a hands-on protocol for plantar fasciosis, peripheral neuropathy and tarsal tunnel syndrome, and coaching strategies for people to incorporate at home.