My Plantar Fasciitis Story

My Plantar Fasciitis Story

Since the time MY plantar fasciitis launched from a tissue-traumatizing heel impact September 2011; through 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 cure and beyond: Here’s the story ( ♫ of a lovely lady ♪ ) in a nutshell.

Before the Beginning, When All Was Still Well

The Attack of the Plantar Fasciitis Monster came to me, as it probably comes to everyone, as a sobering surprise after a life of assuming that the heel was one solid piece that would never turn on me like those other aches and pains I like to refer to as Bob’s Probs: iffy lower back with occasional spasms; rotator cuff problems in one shoulder; acid reflux; occasional weakness and twinges in the knees.

Back in the summer of 2011, before the PF hit, I was still living in those happy innocent days of imagined heel indestructibility. Here’s me on the last big innocent hike, the 9-hour up-and-down of Ben Nevis in Scotland, the highest point in the UK.

An old fatty (me) takes a break on the 9-hour up-and-down of Ben Nevis in Scotland, the highest point in the UK,  in summer 2011. Shortly before launching my plantar fasciitis career. The foot was still not even a distant consideration as candidate to join Bob's Probs.

It should have take less than 9 hours, but on the way down I had to support a person whose knee had gone out. I was smug with pity for this poor imperfect person, because I could walk all day without even the slightest twinge to suggest that even in my wildest imaginings that the heel was not an indestructible solid. Now that my PF is cured, I’m still wondering HOW much it’s cured. Sure I’m back to hiking, but could I do all of Ben Nevis again with no discomfort? And Long’s Peak, near my home in Colorado, which I did in the 1980s, starting by midnight on a full-moon night, reaching the peak by midday, 16 miles and thousands of feet in altitude round trip. I think I’ll try that next summer and just SEE how cured I am.

But that’s all speculation, so here are the facts of my case, most recent reports at the top, oldest reports down below.

December 18, 2013 — In my December 4 post (below), I said, “Better even to walk normally on the heel, when one DOES have to go barefoot.” Better still to not go barefoot. Easiest time to say, oh what the heck, and go barefoot anyway is when one gets up from bed in the night, or in the morning. My solution: keep just one slip-on shoe, for the appropriate foot, at the edge of the bed where it’s easy to slip into when you head for the can in the wee hours. I use one of those Dutch-boy-looking Dansko shoes, or one of the Merrell slip-ons, with an orthotic in it of course.

December 4, 2013 — Had myself a little scare recently about that plantar fasciitis foot of mine. Sure, the plantar fasciitis is cured (see below, October 21, 2013 entry), 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.

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 Recovery 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 It Started, September 2011

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 not breaking, 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.

Recent Posts

Plantar Faciitis, Peyton Manning, Super Bowl!

Plantar Fasciitis Sufferer Wins the Super Bowl

Oh how even the most mighty are brought low by plantar fasciitis! And oh how current knowledge of treatment can raise them back up again. Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had to leave the field on November 8, 2015, due to a plantar fasciita tear. Manning had been suffering from plantar fasciitis prior to the tear. When one has plantar fasciitis, stressing the plantar fascia is more likely to produce a tear. After missing a couple of games, however, he was not only back on the field but WON THE FRIGGING SUPER BOWL! Is that an inspiring message for us all, or what! Like the giants of sports, all of us plantar fasciitis suffers have the potential to reclaim our lives.

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