Plantar Fasciitis: Am I Doomed?!

What is it? How did it happen? How can I fix it?


First off, you are going to be okay! The short hand to my story, is one morning freshmen year of college (go Judges! … yes my school’s mascot was an owl dressed as a judge holding a gavel… and yes I was the mascot for a summer- but I digress into a story for another time)

^ it me

^ it me

Getting back to it- one morning my freshmen year of college, I went to go put my feet on the ladder down from my loft bed, and I couldn’t feel the wood below my heels. My feet had nearly completely lost appropriate feeling due to such intense inflammation of my plantar fascia.

Now don’t worry- this is not what happens to everyone: I was in college, and just let things get worse than I should’ve. But the good news is, I was able to heal (pun intended) from that, and I am happy to share some tips I’ve learned along the way.


The quick points:

Due to their strategic location and function, the heel is vulnerable to damage, injury, and pain.

One of the most common causes of heel and arch pain is overuse without the proper support.


Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis:

In most cases, pain is felt on the bottom of the heel, but can also extend into the arch. The pain is most intense when resuming activity after rest and tends to decrease with continued motion. (This is why in my story above, it was particularly bad in the morning after having been off my feet for several hours).

The science:

The pain is coming from inflammation of a thick band of tissue (plantar fascia) that connects the heel bone to the toes.

Treatment:

  1. Insoles- nearly all cases of plantar fasciitis can be addressed with a pair of over-the-counter plantar fasciitis insoles. I highly recommend these, as they are the ones that have helped give me relief for the last 10 years. Yes, they are over the counter, rather inexpensive, and actually prescribed by my pediatrist.

  2. Exercises-

    • Towel pull: holding a towel in both hands firmly (can also use mini/resistance bands if available) place your toes and foot above your arch directly into the towel loop created. Gently pull slowly on the towel while your leg is fully extended. This is dorsiflexing your toes (bringing your toes in the direction of your body), and stretching out the muscles & tissue at the root of the discomfort.

 
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  • Towel pick up: While standing, and positioned with two supports for your balance on either side of you, place a towel just in front of you (often best to start with a hand towel, and work up to something heavier). In using the balance support for your hands, work to grip the towel on the floor with your toes while your foot is elevated in the air. This is stretching the muscles & tissue in your foot in the opposite direction as the towel pull exercise, accentuating the arch in your foot. (best to do both exercises in succession, though the order may be up to what feels best for you).

 
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  • Stair stretch: As a variation to the towel pull exercise, I have often alternated with this move. You simply need a narrow staircase with banister support on both sides. Position your toes at the edge of one stair, and supporting your balance with your arms slowly lower your weight into your heels. Feel that similar dorsiflexion stretch through your heel, arch, and toes. Once you feel comfortable enough in this exercise you may even begin to pump up and down a bit then also targeting your calf muscles.

 
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Tips-

  • Frozen bottle roll: While seated in a chair that you can place your feet on the ground from, slowly roll a frozen water bottle beneath your foot from your toes to your heel. You want to put some light pressure to also help stretch your foot and limit the time on each foot to no more than 2 minute intervals.

 
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  • Wear shoes as much as possible- slippers with support, or I even recommend everyone’s most stylish footwear: crocs, while at home instead of being barefoot. This can make a huge difference in supporting your arch and relieving the cause of the inflammation. 

What have you found gives you the best relief? Let us know in the comments below or DM us on IG.

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