Coping with plantar fasciitis and recovery
Posted on July 28th, 2016
From a very young age I’ve struggled with plantar fasciitis. Even when i was eight I recollect memories of waking up with a stabbing pain in my foot, my calves feeling so tight that I had to walk on tiptoes. While I haven’t found a way to completely alleviate the pain, I have found various methods that help to keep it under control and prevent the pain from flaring up.
Plantar fasciitis is pain or stiffness under the heel and arch of the foot created by inflammation of the plantar fasciitis ligament. There are many causes that contribute to the pain: flat feet, extremely high arches, over pronation or supination, tight Achilles tendon, the list goes on. Below are a few things in my normal routine that I recommend to help keep the pain under control. Please note that I’ve been struggling with a severe level of pain for majority of my life and depending on your level of pain it might be solved by stretching or gentle massage.
Orthotics provide great support, especially if you over pronate or have excessive supination. The plantar fasciitis ligament experiences a great deal of wear and tear, as the ligament acts as a shock absorber when we walk. The orthotics help to provide more cushion and evenly distribute pressure to the foot.
I swear by acupuncture even though I’ve never been a big fan of needles. Massage and acupuncture is by the far the most effective combination to keep the muscles from tensing up. Plantar fasciitis can affect different parts of the body. Acupuncture is a great way to deal with the other affected areas like the legs or back. Acupuncturists stimulate the muscles by gently moving the needles. They might also use an electro-acupuncture machine which will keep stimulating the muscles for your entire session – very beneficial to reduce pain. As a regular patient of acupuncture I would be lying to say that the needles feel good in the calf muscle, however the next day I always feel the benefits. Nothing I’ve tried has quite gotten to the root of the knots in the muscles like acupuncture. I gradually also began getting acupuncture done to the plantar fasciitis, but only after many treatments when I felt I was ready. Again, it doesn’t feel good but it does wonders. Tension in the body = no fun.
Regular stretching to the Achilles tendon and plantar fasciitis ligament helps to keep pain from accumulating. Other areas where pain might have spread also need to be stretched. For tight calves I recommend standing on the edge of a stair, allowing the heel to drop down to create a nice stretch through the back of the leg. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, always remembering to breathe. Using a strap and keeping the foot flexed is another way to get a good stretch.
How to cope post-surgery:
The initial weeks post-surgery were the hardest as I wasn’t able to do acupuncture or put weight on my left leg to stretch my arch and calves. Depending on the level of discomfort, I recommend getting a night splint to stretch the plantar fasciitis while you sleep. It takes getting used to so I recommend wearing it when you’re watching TV etc. As you become more accustomed to wearing it, you can gradually increase the level of the stretch.
In addition to the night splint, I found a massage ball that is great for rolling out tension in the arches. Once you start making progress in physical therapy, you can actually put weight on the foot to really work out the arch. In the meantime I recommend rolling it against your foot. Remember to breathe as you work through the tension.
If the pain is really bothering you, I would ask your physical therapist to spend a few minutes working through the tension. There might be days where you have to breathe through it but gradually as you heal you can get back to your normal stretching etc and not have to deal with the pain.