Have you ever had Plantar Fasciitis (PF)? Boy, does it hurt! Especially when you put your feet on the floor first thing in the morning—ouch! PF is inflammation in the fascia on the bottom of your foot. You might feel it anywhere from your heel to the ball of your foot. The pain from this condition can not only ruin your workouts but also often your whole day.
The best way to handle PF is to avoid it. Always wear smart, supportive shoes, especially when you will be doing lots of walking. I know several people who came down with PF after a NYC vacation. Those New York sidewalks are hard on your feet! The other way to avoid PF is to use some of the fixes in this article as prevention, so please read on.
PF tends to run a course once you have it. Again, prevention is the key. There is tons of information online about PF. If you have it, try any of the online suggestions that seem like a good idea to you. Here are the actions that I have found work best for me and my clients. (They are in no particular order; just do what you can.)
- Always wear shoes, slippers, sandals, etc. In other words, don’t go barefoot.
- Choose shoes with excellent arch support.
- Stretch your calves and hamstrings.
- Take a contrast bath. Begin with one basin of warm, almost hot water. Then move your feet to a basin of cold water with ice in it. Keep your feet in the warm water for 3 minutes, before moving over to the cold for 1 minute. Repeat the process 3 times. This takes some prep and requires 12 minutes, but I have found this to be the best turn around for PF. Always end with cold.
- Try the bed foot exercises in this article.
All of the aforementioned—except contrast baths—will help to prevent PF as well as speed your recovery from it. If you know you will be doing an unusual amount of walking, especially on really hard surfaces like the sidewalks of NYC, then implement some of the above for prevention.
Calf and Hamstring Stretching
A great calf/hamstring combo stretch is the flop over. Simply stand in front of your bed, table or counter, fold yourself forward from the hips and let your upper body rest on the surface. You will feel a stretch in the back of you anywhere from your lower back to your heels. Locking your knees will affect it. Arching your back will affect what you feel as well. Experiment, be gentle, pay attention and find what works best for you. You can search on YouTube for many calf/hamstring stretching variations and find what works for you.
Bed Foot Exercises
I found an article recently that spoke about how hip/butt strength and flexibility make a big difference in the treatment and prevention of PF. It made total sense to me. I put the exercise ideas through Cinder’s Easy Fitness filter and came up with a few small sweet steps:
Lie in bed (or wherever) on your back, with your legs straight. You can also sit with your legs straight.
Toe Kisses: Bring the edges of your big toes together to “kiss,” and then release. You can flex your feet (toes to nose) or relax your feet. See what feels better. Start with 5 or 10 of these and add more of them slowly over time. Build up gradually to 30 repetitions.
Sword Crosses: When Toe Kisses are easy and comfortable for you, try Sword Crosses. They begin with the same starting position as Toe Kisses. Go beyond the “kiss” and cross your feet, alternating which foot is on top. These can be surprisingly challenging, so go slowly, pay attention, be gentle and err on the side of caution. You may feel these up your whole leg and thigh into your hips.
As always, if something doesn’t feel right … stop!
Cinder Ernst, Medical Exercise Specialist and Life Coach Extraordinaire, helps reluctant exercisers get moving with safe, effective and fun programs. Her book, “Easy Fitness for the Reluctant Exerciser” (http://cinderernst.com/easy-fitness-book/), is now available in paperback and E-book. She specializes in fitness and rehab for plus-size clients, but her stress-free approach is suitable for all. Find out more at http://cinderernst.com
As seen in the San Francisco Bay Times: http://sfbaytimes.com/foot-pain-fixes/