Feet are weird. A lot of people don’t like feet. But if you’re active like I am, you might have encountered a little thing called Plantar Fasciitis. And it hurts. Sometimes it can hurt a LOT. You roll your foot out on a lacrosse ball, maybe a cold roller and the pain subsides for the time being. But does it ever really go away?
Personally, I didn’t realize I was suffering from Plantar Fasciitis until 3 weeks after I started experiencing pain. Yep, 3 weeks! I thought I was just enduring the break-in period of a new pair of running shoes and my new Nanos. Nope. I was wrong. I finally went to my sports medicine doctor and he informed me of the source of my pain, and he told me I had to stop working out for a week. It was a miserable week, but I did it.
For those of you who don’t know about Plantar Fasciitis, it is a painful inflammatory process of the plantar fascia, the connective tissue on the sole of the foot. It manifests in people who practice high impact sports—runners, gymnasts, parachutists, and athletes who train on artificial surfaces. Under load from any of the above factors, the foot’s fascia, which forms a tent between the heel and the base of the five toes to support the medial arch, can get micro-tears. When the body starts to heal those tears, small adhesions, almost like scabs, can form between the fascia and adjacent tendons, muscles or other tissue. The adhesions cause pain, usually felt in the heel, when the foot is under pressure walking or running. Over time, the fascia becomes shortened, ropy and fibrotic. And the condition can become chronic and debilitating if not treated.
Back in August, Outside Magazine published an article about how you can help cure your pain and suffering with just a few simple exercises. It just popped back up on their Facebook page and has been incredibly informative for me.
1. “Toe Yoga.” Standing on a flat surface, lift just your big toe. Drive your other toes into floor and hold for five seconds. Then, drop your big toe, and lift the other four toes. Do three sets of ten on each foot.
2. Marble pickup. Use your big toe and second toe to pick up marbles from the floor by curling your toes over the marbles—small stones will also work. With yor toes, deposit the marbles/stones into a different location. Repeat 10-15 times.
3. Towel scrunch. Place a dishtowel on the floor. With your heel on the ground, scrunch the towel up with your toes. Repeat 10 times per foot.
4. Toe breaker posture. On the floor on all fours, tuck your toes under, then sit back onto your heels. Breathe deeply, sitting back further as you become more comfortable in the posture. Release for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.
5. Self foot massage. Using your thumbs, with one leg crossed over the other so that you can easily access the sole of your sore foot, press into bottom of your foot while wiggling your big toe up and down. Move your thumbs up the center of your foot looking for sore spots. Pay particular attention pain adhesions between your fourth and fifth toe.
6. Shin massage. With your sore foot crossed over your good leg, work your thumbs along the top of your shinbone with your leg crossed. Press on tender areas with your thumbs, while flexing your foot back and forth. Then, rub your shin muscles like you’d rub oil into a baseball mitt—work them to make them more pliable.
7. Stair stretch. Standing on one foot with your heel hanging off a stair, raise up onto your toes, then drop down with your heel below the stair. Count to four with each raise and each drop. Repeat 15 times.
All of these can be incredibly helpful in curing Plantar Fasciitis. I know from personal experience that this inflammation sucks and is incredibly inconvenient. Don’t be in denial like I was and go 3 weeks before seeing a doctor.