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  1. #1
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    Default Plantar Fasciitis

    I think I'm experiencing this in my left foot...specifically the pain is only in the bottom of my heel, no pain at all in the arch. It could also be a heel stress fracture.I've been doing lots of calf and Achilles stretching, Advil and rolling my arch over a golf ball. May consider doing a cortisone shot so I can do my July section hike. Would be a bummer to have all the training go to waste.

    Anyone have a magic bullet insert that will fit in a work shoe that worked wonders for you?

  2. #2
    Registered User Old Hiker's Avatar
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    This happened a few months BEFORE my thru in 2016. Scared the bee-jezus out of me, thinking I would NOT be able to start the hike after planning so long.

    Had no magic bullet for me.

    Foot dr. said it was pf, but I had minor to moderate (?) bone spurs. He leaned towards the pf causing the pain.

    Had to have a stretching boot and inserts from my foot dr. Had a built up arch in the insole to help support my arch.

    Boot was supposed to be on up to 12 hours per day, but I could only have it on about 2 hours before my foot would get numb. Dr. said it was because I was "rushing" it by pulling it much tighter, much sooner. He didn't quite approve, but was glad I took it off when my foot would get numb.

    Stretching exercises, etc. helped as well.

    I have an irrational fear of needles (pain), so the shots were going to be a last resort, plus the dr. said they wouldn't last too long under strenuous conditions.

    Final result: after 2-3 months of the above, foot pain was gone, calves and tendons were MUCH more flexible and I was able to complete the thru with NO foot pain.
    Old Hiker
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  3. #3

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    Depends what the cause is. I have a heel spur, which will never get better. So, then it's a question of orthotics and other fairly ineffective ways of addressing the related plantar fasciitis.

    I take about a half hour to stretch each morning, hobbling around slowly. Then I hike all day, if I rest for too long, everything tightens back up and I go through the stretching. I basically ignore the pain and it recedes into the background.

  4. #4

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    I've had PF twice. The first time I was able to continue thru hiking the AT, but it slowed me down by about 1 mph and always let me know it was there with every other footstep.
    I did all the recommended things that you can easily find on the internet. It went away a couple months after I finished the hike.
    Not sure what worked, or even if anything worked other than less mileage on that first time...but it did go away.

    The second time was a few years later and it took me off the CDT because I could barely walk any more by the time I got to Colorado.
    That time it lasted about six months and none of the recommended remedies worked.
    I didn't know what to do, but two things happened about the same time.

    A retired ER doctor friend couldn't believe I wasn't taking any kind of anti-inflammatory. He said I was only causing more damage.
    I started taking an anti-inflammatory, but only when the pain got extra bad after I was on it too much during the day.

    That was also when "Born To Run" was released and I read that with interest.
    That book gave me the idea to try a different approach that is pretty much 100% polar to what is recommended.
    I started going barefoot everywhere I could and I started running up to a couple miles barefoot around a local soccer field.

    The pain was completely gone within two weeks and has not returned in about nine years.
    I am barefoot whenever possible...probably 90% of my day.

    I honestly think you have to keep trying different methods until you find what works for your body.
    Stumpknocker
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  5. #5
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    Sole brand inserts has worked for me. They have several different models depending upon activity, shoe volume, etc. If you can afford it you could also go with custom made inserts. Really bad cases might require a surgical process that entails going in and cutting part way through the ligament to lengthen it (my wife has had this done with both feed).
    Lonehiker

  6. #6

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    Do the golf ball thing as hard as you can, it should hurt. After a week or two things should be better. Add some good instep inserts to your shoes and you should be good for the trail.
    At least that is what worked for me.

  7. #7

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    Besides stretches, good shoes and not going barefoot the two things that really makes a difference for me are an ice bag on the heel for 20 minutes twice a day and a night splint. May not be the best night splint in the world but it is one I can sleep with.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-1RmCxbeQ0
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  8. #8
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    Last year, I had significant pain in the back of my heel- right below my ankle and Achilles. I thought it was plantar fasciitis. Come to find out it was Achilles tendonitis. It was pulling at the point where it connects to the heel... I had to do a number of stretches for it every day...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by stumpknocker View Post
    That was also when "Born To Run" was released and I read that with interest.
    That book gave me the idea to try a different approach that is pretty much 100% polar to what is recommended.
    I started going barefoot everywhere I could and I started running up to a couple miles barefoot around a local soccer field.

    The pain was completely gone within two weeks and has not returned in about nine years.
    I am barefoot whenever possible...probably 90% of my day.

    I honestly think you have to keep trying different methods until you find what works for your body.
    Glad I'm not the only barefooter here. I'm barefoot at least 95 percent of the time too. I also plan to start my hike in sandals. I had pf years ago when I weighed 220. I lost 20 lbs. It went away and never came back. Last time I weighed myself I was at 177. I'm 5ft6in. I'd like to lose 15 more lbs.

    Not implying op is overweight. Just sharing my experience.

  10. #10

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    FWIW - I thought I had plantar fasciitis when symptoms presented themselves and tried the stretches, rolling a ball under the arch, and all that. It did not get better, so I saw my GP who said it was probably plantar fasciitis and gave me an information package that included most of what I was already doing.

    It wasn't until several months later when I found out it was't PF. I had to get new orthotic inserts for an existing problem unrelated to PF and in making the examination, my podiatrist asked if I was having any other problems so I mentioned the PF diagnosis. After a few minutes and the use of a new type of X-ray equipment, he said it wasn't PF, but heel spurs that were on the forward part of the heel. Not a usual place for these, but not uncommon.

    This condition can present like PF, but is not curable with stretches or other processes. I had new orthotics made that helps accommodate the spurs (on both heels), and they work ok as a "for now" solution. Cortisone shots are probably next at some point, surgery is likely the only other option after that, which if I want to continue hiking is not recommended at this point in time. The point of this is, things are not always what they seem, even General Practitioner MDs make that call wrong. A podiatrist is probably the best bet in determining foot conditions that linger more than a month or three.

  11. #11

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    Definitely try stretching and rolling before you do the shot. I had it really bad after a basketball incident about 8 years ago. The pain was terrible. Mine ended up popping a tendon (or was it a ligament?). Anyways, I wore a big boot for several weeks while it healed.
    I rarely have issues but lately, I have been getting some soreness again. Mostly in the heel of my foot but also around the backside of my heel where flexing my foot, to or beyond 90 degrees was very painful.
    I went to the gym and did seated calf raises. At first, it was very painful. After 2-3 trips doing these exercises, along with normal workouts, the pain seems to have gone away. Even the pain in my heel.

    The reason I say stay away from the shot is that when I had one, several years ago, in the PF area of the arch of my foot, it was quite possibly the worst pain I have ever felt. Sounds dramatic, I know but it was. The only way I would go through that again is if they told me I would lose my foot if they didn't do it. Maybe it was because mine was injured but I would never recommend that spot for a cortisone shot. I hope you don't have to get it done! Good luck in the healing.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pondjumpr View Post
    Definitely try stretching and rolling before you do the shot. I had it really bad after a basketball incident about 8 years ago. The pain was terrible. Mine ended up popping a tendon (or was it a ligament?). Anyways, I wore a big boot for several weeks while it healed.
    I rarely have issues but lately, I have been getting some soreness again. Mostly in the heel of my foot but also around the backside of my heel where flexing my foot, to or beyond 90 degrees was very painful.
    I went to the gym and did seated calf raises. At first, it was very painful. After 2-3 trips doing these exercises, along with normal workouts, the pain seems to have gone away. Even the pain in my heel.

    The reason I say stay away from the shot is that when I had one, several years ago, in the PF area of the arch of my foot, it was quite possibly the worst pain I have ever felt. Sounds dramatic, I know but it was. The only way I would go through that again is if they told me I would lose my foot if they didn't do it. Maybe it was because mine was injured but I would never recommend that spot for a cortisone shot. I hope you don't have to get it done! Good luck in the healing.
    My appt with the podiatrist is on Monday. I'll see what he says...but I have no idea if this guy is a sports oriented doc or used to primarily treating elderly ladies with bunions...I don't know what the current best practices are for diagnosing and treating PF (if it's that) in very active people.

  13. #13

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    My doctor's solution was orthotics. He said they were athletic orthotics and I could run in them. In my mid-30's I could barely walk in them 4 hours at a time. I realize that I needed to get used to them a little at a time but after several weeks of wearing them and calf/leg pain became an issue, I threw them in a drawer at home. 8 years later, I imagine they are still there. They were too stiff for me to be comfortable in. Some swear by them....

  14. #14

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    I went to the sports medicine clinic for this very issue yesterday - heel pain. I was given a heel cup, a list of exercises, and some meds.

    Ironically, while I was waiting for an X-ray, I ran into a friend. She had previously had a similar issue. She mentioned that getting a shot in the heel was more painful than any of her 5 childbirths!! Needless to say, when the doc asked if I wanted to go ahead and get a shot, I said I’d try the exercises first. When I asked about the pain, he said it’s because there is nowhere for the injected fluid to go. The pressure is therefore quite excruciating. When I asked how long the shot was effective, he said anywhere from 2 days to 6 months.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by spfleisig View Post
    My appt with the podiatrist is on Monday. .......I don't know what the current best practices are for diagnosing and treating PF (if it's that) in very active people.
    I have been to two orthopedic specialists and my experience has been an xray of the foot, physical exam and patient history are what they base the diagnoses on.
    Quote Originally Posted by Pondjumpr View Post
    My doctor's solution was orthotics. He said they were athletic orthotics and I could run in them. In my mid-30's I could barely walk in them 4 hours at a time. I realize that I needed to get used to them a little at a time but after several weeks of wearing them and calf/leg pain became an issue, I threw them in a drawer at home. 8 years later, I imagine they are still there. They were too stiff for me to be comfortable in. Some swear by them....
    I have had orthotics from 3 different podiatrists over the last 50 years and my experience is not unlike yours. Back in the old days they made a cast of your foot and sent that off to the lab but now they use a digital pressure map of your feet when you stand on a machine. I have alternated between prescription orthotics and over the counter ones with none being really satisfactory. The over counter ones don't give enough support and the prescription ones never really fit right. They also alter the way your shoes fit and I ended up trading one type of foot pain for another with them. Bad feet are a curse especially if you like to hike.
    If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pondjumpr View Post
    My doctor's solution was orthotics. He said they were athletic orthotics and I could run in them. In my mid-30's I could barely walk in them 4 hours at a time. I realize that I needed to get used to them a little at a time but after several weeks of wearing them and calf/leg pain became an issue, I threw them in a drawer at home. 8 years later, I imagine they are still there. They were too stiff for me to be comfortable in. Some swear by them....
    I posted my experience many years ago.
    I once had horrible PF where I could not take a step when I got out of bed in the morning.

    My orthotics cured it completely.

    It was not comfortable. The foot is moldable and purpose of Orthotics is to reshape the foot. Read the definition of ortho.., it is to reshape. Not to make a mold of existing and make comfy. I had lost the arch in my foot. It was plain to see walking on concrete with wet feet.

    I went to a sports oriented person back then the outfitted professional athletes . Notable ones were the Pittsburgh Steelers and Franco Harris. There's many reasons for Orthotics... Your whole body's balance and Alignment starts with the foot. Knee pain hip pain back pain can all be related to a foot that's not in the right position.
    An idealized foot arch shape is better than a poor one.

    At first it was like walking with golf balls under my feet. 30 minutes was all I could handle. After 6 months I couldn't feel they were there anymore. It was easy to see the arch of my foot had been restored as well. Been wearing them everyday for 25 years. Hike thousand miles in them , run in them workout in them. I would never not wear them in my shoes.

    Find a Good Feet store near you, and pay them a visit.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 06-12-2018 at 23:16.
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  17. #17
    Super Moderator Marta's Avatar
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    The stretch that worked best for me was Downward Dog.

    Weirder than that, though, is that I started a very low carb diet a little over a year ago. PF symptoms have completely disappeared. No stretching needed anymore. I can't really say the change is diet is why, but other low-carbers have claimed their PF is gone, too.
    If not NOW, then WHEN?

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  18. #18

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    I had a problem with PF. I like to sleep on my stomach, and when I was having problems, my feet would flatten out on the top of the mattress, pointing toward the end of the bed. Once I found that the stretching made the foot stretch in the opposite direction of that, I stopped pointing my toes at night. I would slide down, and hang my feet over the edge with my toes pointing at the floor. I haven't hada problem since. It might not solve it for you, but it won't cost a penny, it doesn't hurt, and it can't hurt you. I have also heard of people who had the problem and just tried new/different shoes. If the support of your shoes has worn down, that can cause pain. Good luck.

  19. #19

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    [QUOTE=Pringles I have also heard of people who had the problem and just tried new/different shoes. If the support of your shoes has worn down, that can cause pain. Good luck.[/QUOTE] I just got new shoes for that very reason. I'll see how it goes.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  20. #20

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    I hope they work for you Feral Bill. I had a friend who got $400 orthotics, and it turned out that new shoes fixed the problem. I'm NOT saying it's a guaranteed fix, just that it is something to try. :-) Good luck.

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