One Guy’s Cure Story
August 2015 – Got back yesterday from a backpacking trip to the “Lakes of the Clouds” in Colorado’s Sangre De Christo mountains. The clouds do tend to hang on these mountains and soak them with drizzle, not surprisingly, since you drive up to the trail head about 8 miles west from the town of Westcliffe in the big beautiful valley known as Wet Mountain Valley, and across the valley are the Wet Mountains. We only did about two and a half miles uphill with those half-ton backpacks on, and camped just off Swift Creek, and the rest of the up and down was a second-day hike up to the lakes of about 4 miles round trip with just day packs. But you add that 4 miles to the 5 mile round trip with the big packs on, and it’s inspiring for me to realize how much heavily laden walking I did without being crippled by plantar fasciitis. I credit the PF-friendly hiking shoes and inserts. Of course, my legs are really tired today, and I got very poor sleep at night because the hard ground — despite the blow-up sleeping pad — seemed to be dislocating my rib cage, but it’s a wonder to me that among my geriatric aches and pains plantar fasciitis is no longer even a part of the problem. If anybody knows a solution to the rib-cage thing though, I’d sure appreciate the input.
May 2014 – I’d hoped to get up for my first day of fishing in the mountains this week, but it’s cold and rainy again. My kind of fishing is what I call “aerobic fishing,” moving from pool to pool down a stream in the mountains. That’s OK, warm weather was here already, and hot weather is coming. Doing a lot of hiking nowadays, the latest project being to do every one of the 20-some parks in Jefferson County Open Space here in the Colorado mountains. The plantar fasciitis is always there, I can feel it, but if I have the right footwear and am doing the right stretches, I don’t feel it as pain; just a lurking presence.
December 4, 2013 — Had myself a little scare recently about that plantar fasciitis foot of mine. Sure, I managed to cure plantar fasciitis (see below, October 21, 2013 entry, where I bray about my plantar fasciitis cure), but suddenly the mid-to-fore foot felt damaged and it was, several times, painful when walking. What the …. Then I remembered a conversation I had with Dr.John Wilson, a faculty member in the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and a team physician for the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department. The conversation was about walking barefoot.
Getting lazy, I was more often walking barefoot rather than putting on a shoe with support, but to avoid walking on the plantar fasciia I had been walking on my toes and the ball of my foot like animals do, thinking that should be a natural thing. After all, what is a heel in us is halfway up the back of the leg in a dog, so they’re walking on their toes. Dr. Wilson advised, though: “Humans are not designed to walk like that. Walking on toes creates other problems long term, like Achilles tendonitis or pain in the knees and back.”
Makes sense, when you think about the distance between humans and animals. Look at our ancestors of 400,000 years ago, and you feel like you’re looking at the difference between two species, like a sheep and a pig. Of course it traumatizes something in the foot when we put bizarre stresses on it by trying to walk like a dog.
Well, it was putting too many bizarre stresses on the internal forefoot too, apparently, and I had the sudden fear that I had might have created another crippling pathology. So I stopped doing that. Better even to walk normally on the heel, when one DOES have to go barefoot. Eliminating that ballet-dancer prance I had thought was okay, fortunately, stopped whatever damage I’d been doing to the internal forefoot. And fortunately, it hadn’t done anything permanent. That forefoot pain no longer appears. Just goes to show, listen to the doctor.
My Plantar Fasciitis Story
How to cure plantar fasciitis, that was the question. Since the time MY plantar fasciitis launched from a tissue-traumatizing heel impact September 2011; through by countless hours of telephone interviews, for this Web site, with doctors and other medical personnel and scientists; through testing what I learned, using myself as lab rat; to the present state of plantar fasciitis cure and beyond: Here’s the story ( ♫ of a lovely lady ♪ ) in a nutshell, most recent reports at the top, oldest reports down below.
October 21, 2013 — Last weekend, I was up in the mountains hiking in Colorado’s Staunton State Park. The temperature was bracing cold, a dusting of snow was in the woods and there were patches of ice on the path, but the sun was out and the golden aspens were aglow and it was a beautiful day. A year ago, I’d have been sitting at home in the gloom of not being able to enjoy experiences like this.
So I pronounced myself cured. Sure I can still feel that place, feel that my plantar fascia (right foot) is not the virgin tissue it was. I can feel it especially when I walk around barefoot, that knot, and that shifting of the tissue with each step that tells me that if I were to stop wearing the right shoes and orthotics and making sure not to walk around the house barefoot or just in socks, doing the proper stretches, it could come back. So I wear the right stuff and do the right stuff, and it’s cured as far as I’m concerned.
My Plantar Fasciitis Cure Starts: Spring 2012
At my first visit to a podiatrist in the Spring of 2012 where I got the word that yes, my problem was definitely plantar fasciitis, I got advice on stretching, icing, wearing shoes with flexible soles and tight heels, taking anti-inflammatories and using arch supports and cushioning insoles. My podiatrist even sold me her recommended over-the-counter arch support: the Blaue Fussbett [the blue foot bed], by Birkenstock. Cost : $50.00.
I bought a second pair at a local custom shoe store, and used them from May to September during a mineral exploration field season in the northwest just south of the Canadian border, going up and down mountains dawn to dusk seven days a week.
The Blaue Fussbett definitely helped me get through the season, but by September I thought I needed to try something else. Maybe that season of unusual stress on my plantar-fasciitis-afflicted foot was asking too much of an over-the-counter arch support, I thought.
So I went to a local outlet of the Good Feet Stores and bought their program. The Good Feet Store program with arch supports that cost enough to dissuade me from buying more than the two pairs I needed for their program. (Although now, in December 2013, I’m planning to buy a third pair so I don’t have to switch them from shoe to shoe all the time). The Good Feet Store program does have other benefits that make it worthwhile, though, and you can read the skinny on that in The Good Feet Stores.
So I was looking for a cheaper alternative for those times when I wanted to use shoes I don’t wear most of the time. I got some extras, and you can see more detail on that in Orthotics and Footwear.
AND, the other crucial element of my recovery, in my opinion, has been faithfully following a program of the proper daily stretching exercises, and you can see that in our Stretching section.
The Beginning — How the Plantar Fasciitis Started
SOMETHING turned my right foot into a plantar fasciitis case. Looking back beyond when I first noticed something serious was wrong, I see a day in the woods by a river in Nebraska when I was stomping on sticks to break them for firewood. Stupidly, I was wearing tennis shoes. You need a big shoe with a hard sole, if you’re going to stomp wood. Stupidly, I stomped thicker and thicker branches until I couldn’t break one. Tossing caution to the wind, I stomped really hard until, the branch still didn’t break, but my foot did. I felt a pain and thought I’d broken or torn something in my foot. Nothing was broken, but I’m convinced that was the start.