Plantar Fasciitis is painful and does not come on or heal overnight. It takes time to get it and get over it. I wanted to share some tricks and tips I personally use or have tried to soothe my plantar fasciitis. I’ll tell you what does and does not work.
I woke up one morning and could not stand on my feet. Specifically, I could not put pressure on my left foot. It was crazy. I mean, just the day before, I had been on my feet all day at an Easter egg hunt! I did not even notice a problem the day before, except for a twinge in one toe and a little tightness in my heal. Well, turns out the problem was an accumulated affect of years of foot neglect. Who knew that flat sandals and high heals could damage my feet? Well, turns out just about everyone knows that, but we do it anyway. We like cute shoes and often sacrifice our feet to look cute! We will talk more about this in Tip – 5 Change Your Shoes, but for now let’s look at getting medical attention.
Tip 1 – Seek Medical Attention
Since I was a chiropractic patient for scoliosis, I already had a doctor to talk with about the pain. Turns out, they have a treatment for plantar fasciitis that is as painful as the condition! Yikes. I do not recommend Graston therapy. Basically, it felt like the therapist was trying to kill me with a butter knife! The therapy is supposed to breakup fascial restrictions and restore movement. It may work for others, but not for me.
While I did not enjoy the treatment, it did give me a chance to get a diagnosis of the foot pain. I also got a little education on the cause of the pain. Basically, it is a fascial condition. You know what fascia is, right? Well, I did not have any idea what it was until I had to learn to deal with my fascial restriction. I’ll give you the explanation my massage therapist gave me. Fascia is that net-like substance between chicken skin and the meat. Okay, I know that is kind of gross, but getting a picture is part of the battle. You need to know your enemy. Well, fascia is not really your enemy, in fact, it is your friend and needs your support. That’s where our Tip 2 – Learn Self Massage comes into play. Everyone loves a good massage, especially fascia.
Here’s a link to learn more about what fascia is and what it does.
Tip 2 – Learn Self Massage
If you didn’t take time to read the previous link on what fascia is, here is a little bit of information that will help as we go through the next tip. Women may relate to this example more than men. Basically, fascia is the substance that holds everything together like a good pair of control top pantyhose! I haven’t worn pantyhose in about twenty years, but I still remember how it feels to wear a pair.
When you first put them on, they are a bit tight and firm. Your legs look smoother and toned. Belly control is a plus. Your shoes slip on comfortably. In no time flat, you are ready for the day. Uh oh, the inevitable potty trip comes due.
The one thing that I always hated about pantyhose was the time after the first visit to the restroom. I mean, I could never quite get the pantyhose back up to fit they way they did at first. The crotch would sag; the ankles would bunch; the knees were wrinkled and twisted. Eventually, the hose would run from all the yanking and pulling. Dang it!
Fascia is the stuff that holds us together, that helps us be flexible, that gives us movement and structure. When it is tight or sagging, we have issues.
So, the self-massage I would like to share in this tip is much like putting on a pair of pantyhose. It gets the fascia warmed up and moving with less restriction.
I use coconut oil, but you can use just about any lotion or oil for this massage. Start with a dab of coconut oil. About a teaspoon will do your whole leg. You’ll want to spread it all over yourself, but let’s start with your foot! Coconut oil is solid at temperatures above 76 degrees. You can use solid or liquid. Once you put the solid in you hands and rub together, it will melt to an oil so don’t put too much in your hands at a time. A little goes a long way.
Anyway, you will want to start on one foot, but do both even if you only have issues with one. This will avoid issues in the other and give you pretty legs in the process. No pantyhose needed!
Just rub the oil on your foot and calf to start. You will want to be sitting down and have a towel on the floor to place your foot on after you finish and while you do the other one. Also, test your footing as you stand to make sure you do not slip. I have never had an issue with slipping, but we are using oil and it is a possibility. Just a word of caution.
As you rub the oil or lotion into the foot, use gentle long strokes from toes to heel and tiny circular motions in arch. Don’t get in there with deep tissue massage. I know it is tempting, but trust me, it hurts and does not seem to have any more benefit to me. You are just wanting to warm up and slightly manipulate the fascia, much like the pantyhose illustration. If you get in there too much with pantyhose, you will get a run. Nobody wants a run in their hose. Once all the foot feels a bit loose, about a minute or so is all that is required, move to the ankle and calf. With oiled hands, make a circle around and clasp around your ankle lightly. Now gently pull your hands up the calf like you are smoothing pantyhose or knee highs up. This will counter the effects of gravity on the fascia. Do this a minute or so, as well. No more pantyhose bunched up around the ankles. Feels good, huh?
Remember to do booth feet and legs. While you are at it, might as well spread coconut oil over your entire body. It is an excellent way to reduce dryness and increase smooth, supple skin. My dermatologist says I have great skin. I got it from my mama and coconut oil. 🙂
Give the oil a few minutes to absorb before dressing. You’ll have a great day ahead.
Tip 3 – Do Gentle Stretches
A stretch that I like to do is super simple and gentle. Instead of flexing the foot, as you may feel is more appropriate, try this. On a yoga mat or something slightly padded, get down on your knees and sit back on your heels. This will stretch the fronts of your legs. I’d do Tip 2- Learn Self Massage before this stretch. Your fascia will be warmed up and ready to move by then.
If you want to do this at the end of the day, you can always do the self massage again or just do the stretch as part of your exercise warm up. I like to start my day with a massage and then some full body stretching. Do what works for you.
Tip 4 – Soak Your Feet
A good foot bath is soothing anytime. I use a simple plastic dish pan or one of those plastic pans they send home with you after a hospital stay. You just need something that will hold water about ankle deep without spilling and your feet fit in flat and comfortably. Fill about half-full with warm water – not too hot or cold. Mix in about 1/2 to 1 cup of Epson salt. I like lavender for extra relaxation. There are many varieties of Epson salt. Choose the one that feels best to you.
If you are dealing with a nail fungus or cracked heels to boot, use White Vinegar with the Epson salt for additional benefits. I find White Vinegar is less offensive in the smell department. It is a cheap anti-fungal. Listerine is another great option for anti-fungal benefits and minty fresh feet!
Another option is to sit and dangle your feet in the swimming pool, lake, river, ocean or off the dock of the bay! Just get off your feet and get them in some soothing water.
Tip 5 – Change Your Shoes
Okay, we love shoes and sacrifice comfort for style. I like blingy shoes, but they are often a source of pain for me. Recently, my daughter introduced me to Birkenstock shoes. I have known about them for years, but did not subscribe to their kind of clunky appearance. Plus they are not cheap. However, I also read a lot of information and listened to others who swear by them for foot comfort. I thought, I will get some to wear around the house. Turns out, they are the only shoes I want to wear everywhere. Sure, I still wear my blingy dress shoes to church, but they come off as soon as I get home!
I need something between my toes to hold them on and the Birkenstock styles I’ve known in the past seemed to need the wearer to slide their feet in a shuffle to keep them on their feet. That is just not my idea of comfort or style. I may have been wrong all along, but we get things stuck in our heads and it sometimes takes experience to release those thoughts. Or maybe I have been right all along and this particular style I was introduced to is the only ones I will like. Who knows? Maybe I need to try them all. 🙂
The Birkenstock style or model I am talking about is the oiled leather, cork bottom version of Mayari Flat Sandal. I bought mine at DSW and they were great to explain the sizing. I purchased the first set online. Being a 6 1/2 to 7 shoe size usually, that is what I ordered. Big mistake because I ordered the US 7 or EU 38 because the next size down was listed as a 6 to 6 1/2. Hmm, I had some learning to do.
I got the first pair on a Saturday afternoon via UPS. Being excited and ready to support my arches a bit better than my house shoes were doing, I put them on. Yikes, they hurt like heck. However, I had read that Birkenstock shoes take some getting use to. That’s an understatement. I wore the shoes uncomfortably Saturday and Sunday in the house. Monday morning, I called DSW to see if I could return them. The young lady I spoke with was very helpful and knowledgeable. Turns out Birkenstock shoes run real big. So instead of going up in size like you may think to do on other shoes, you need to go down. In fact, go down two sizes.
I could not believe that I needed a US 5 or 5 1/2. So off to the store I went to return and try on a new size. Oh my goodness, it was like putting on a well fitting glove, when I put my foot in the EU 36. The return was easy and we reordered my color and size. Love DSW shoes and my new Birkenstock Mayari Flat Sandal. I got them in mocha and I’m in the market for some black ones.
It takes a few days to get comfortable in the shoes, but Birkenstock has a great fitting guide.
Tip 6 – Go To The Beach
While going to the beach and walking in the powdery sand barefoot may not be recommended by foot doctors, I recommend going to the beach every chance you get. If nothing else, it will definitely take your mind off your troubled feet. Don’t wear your leather Birkenstock sandals, though. You may want to try their foam style. They are not available at this writing in the thong style, but at least the slide version is water friendly.
I have some Sperry water sandals that work for all outdoor water activities. I used to think they were the best thing for my feet, but now I love my Birkenstocks even more.
The main thing that going to the beach offers is a vacay from stress. Since stress is so prevalent in our world, every chance we get to relieve it is a good thing. Stress leads to all kinds of ailments and even weight gain. I’m learning the best thing we can often do is to stop and do nothing for a while. I am not advocating the couch potato lifestyle. Instead, I am saying take a stroll and relax your mind. Hold the hand of the one you love and talk about important things like flowers, sea shells, clouds, sand, surf, anything but stressful subjects. Take 30 minutes a day and focus on happy things.