Journey with Plantar Fasciitis – an update

Sunrise - Tehachapi
Sunrise – Tehachapi

“If it doesn’t challenge you,
it doesn’t change you”
~Fred DeVito

After writing “Hiking with Plantar Fasciitis” last October, I received many emails and comments with tips and questions about this apparently common problem among athletes and hikers. This original post focused on plantar fasciitis treatment while hiking on trail. This post will concentrate on ideas for prevention and treatment in everyday life.

Right now I am doing great with no pain during activity or at rest. I want to stay that way.

With the hiking season coming up in just a couple of months, now is the time to be proactive and prepare my body physically. Last week, I visited a new podiatrist to get new custom orthotics. Dr. Davis was very thorough and took the time to explain a bit about plantar fasciitis, physically what happens and why, my condition, and preventative stretches I should do throughout the day after sitting for a period of time.

I also have done quite a bit of research on the Internet. Boy, there are very conflicting theories online about the cause and treatment of plantar fasciitis. After listening to Dr. Davis talk about the anatomy of the foot and connective tissues, I really am motivated to not only do the traditional prevention, but also nutritionally protect and heal my body’s connective tissue. In addition to morning stretching, nightly massage with essential oils lavender and peppermint or Relief blend and regularly wearing my orthotics I am going to add 5 steps to my daily routine. Some of these are just a matter of doing, others are pretty challenging.

To keep me motivated and on track with the following daily goals, I just keep thinking of upcoming hiking trips.

5 Steps to Happy and Healthy Hiking Feet

1. Drink water
How much water? Here is the most common equation for the minimum liters per day: use the equation body weight in kg x 0.033. I am going try and drink 3 liters per day. For me, that is a big stretch.

2. Eat Clean
Eat a very clean whole food anti-inflammatory diet. I already eat healthily, BUT I love sugar. Fructose (sugar) is a friend of inflammation. I have found The Adrenal Reset Diet by Dr. Alan Christianson to be easy to follow and I feel great. Even giving sugar the boot, has been painless. Really.

3. Supplements
Take them. Right now I am using The Daily Reset Pack.

4. Stretch
Stretch throughout the day. What does this mean? If I am sedentary (at the computer) for more than 30 minutes (I set the timer on my iPhone) I get up and do these stretches HERE and HERE.

5. Exercise for flexibility and strength
It is important to increase ankle, achilleas tendon, and calf flexibility and strength. I started barre3 online classes at home and I love them. The low impact classes combine yoga, pilates, resistance training, and a bit of cardio. Barre3 even has a free 15 day trial period. My goal is to do 4, 60 minutes classes per week.

I think sunrises are a bit like the healing process. You have to do the work (get up, walk to a perfect location, wait, wait, wait, and look up) and then the big reward comes.

Do you have tips to share? Please share in the comments below.

13 Comments

  1. Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

    Thank you! Me too!

  2. I suppose this goes without saying, but you should invest in a high quality pair of hiking boots as well! If there’s one thing a hiker shouldn’t skimp on, it’s boots (or shoes if you prefer, but get nice shoes too!)

  3. I got PF a few years ago while I was training for a Philmont trip with my son. Turns out the gym shoes I was wearing for treadmill training had some hard plastic “springs” in the heel and the repetitive walking with the “springs” created the problem. My podiatrist prescribed some physical therapy augmented with a steroid shot, an anti-imflammatory prescription, Diflocenac, orthotics and getting better gym shoes. Even with all these fixes I was still in pain for my trip, but I powered through and made it to the end. I’m happy to say that the pain eventually went away after a year or so. The OTC orthotics my Dr. recommended were Superfeet and they have probably been one of the main reasons my feet are better. I’ve got 3 pairs – for my hiking boots, for my gym shoes, and for my flats ( I no longer wear anything higher than a 2-inch heel, and that’s rarely). However, if my feet get cold I can feel the muscles in my foot begin to seize, so I’m careful about keeping them warm.

  4. Well, darn, Rockin’! I hate that you struggle with this malady, and I share it with you, as does my wife (trail name Mommy Hugs). I just conquered a bout of it this week, and was concerned that it might prevent a planned four-day outing on the Florida Trail. Fortunately, it has gone away. But I will take tape with me to take the stress off my heel and arch if necessary. BTW, I am still basking in the delight of meeting you and your fantastic family at the Len Foote Hike Inn last Thanksgiving. I just did a signing at Malaprops Bookstore in Asheville, NC, for THRU, and I still keep selling copies. Much love!

  5. I cured my PF with podiatrist orthotics and frequent, several times per day towel stretching. I keep a towel for stretching next to my bed to I can stretch before going to sleep and after awakening. The orthotics have a rigid arch and a heel post for stability. They also have a diagonal pad on the outside portion of the ball of the foot. I don’t know what that is called. The orthotics also relieved my knee pain. Now I don’t leave home without them!

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      I love hearing success stories. Thank you for sharing. I like the idea of a towel. On backpacking trips, a bandana could take the place of the towel.

  6. I have to agree with Brian. I was diagnosed with PF by a Podiatrist and, at his suggestion, had custom orthotics made, taped my feet, wore different shoes and stopped running (started riding my bike for exercise)… I wore those orthotics and tape on a 5-day thru-hike of the Wonderland trail in 2009. For the most part it was tolerable but I still had some nagging pain. Eventually, I decided what I really needed was to strengthen my feet so I began walking and running barefoot on my treadmill. Wow. The stronger my feet became, the less pain I had.

    I think the muscles in my feet began to atrophy due to minimal use from always wearing shoes and boots. I’m not hard core enough to hike or backpack barefoot, but I do think rebuilding the foot muscles, stretching and massaging my feet have had a positive impact on the PF.

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Dave, I just love hearing your success story. Thank you for sharing with the readers. I like how you not only just walked around barefoot, but physically used your feet while they were barefoot. That is a very different story than just walking around the house barefoot and expecting everything to get better. Clarity and observation came together for both you and Brian and you both acted on it. Good on you both. Here’s to staying healed from the “Curse”.

  7. Great articles. I never heard of “the curse” until 2 years ago when it struck me while hiking the Wonderland Trail. I thought it was a bad sprain
    and bandaged it accordingly. It helped as a temporary fix and allowed me to continue hiking with moderate
    discomfort. Once off the trail things got progressively worse.

    I did a bit of research on it and never did see a doctor believing that I would resolve it myself. I borrowed a boot (somewhat mid evil looking)
    that I tried sleeping with. This added to my injuries as I repeatedly kicked and bruised my good leg during my sleep. Enough story telling.
    I did accidentally find my own cure. I was doing some speed walking up a
    40 degree slope (trying) when something funny occurred to my foot..the discomfort diminished. A light went on in my head so I started working out at the gym. Concentrating on workouts that would impact my feet. After a couple of weeks I was seeing immediate positive results. My cure was the exercise.

    Thank you again for your great articles

    Loki/Brian

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Thank you for your input. Boy howdy you are so right. The gym and organized exercise!!! Gasp… Seriously, never thought I would ever say those words. But the only way I know of to gain strength and flexibility is to do more than just walking. Thank you for sharing! It is so helpful for others with foot, ankle, achilles tendon, and knee pain. Hey, I think that is just about everyone at some point in a hiking career. 🙂

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