Plantar Fascitis

Enough of the caveman thing for a little while. I’ll incorporate it into future discussions. I’ve got to get on with some of the things I can tell you to help you with your bodies. The Things I Want to Tell the World!

Not all of the things I want to tell the world are orthopedic things. Of course I know the most about orthopedic things. Some are general medical things. Some are psychological things. And some don’t fit into any medical categories. They’re just things I’ve contemplated in my 30 years of practicing medicine, my 15 years of riding horses, my 25 years of parenthood and my 56 years of existence and I feel like sharing them now.

And the first thing I want to tell the world…Stretch your feet every morning before you get out of bed.

Why this? Why is this my first thing? Because I see at least one woman every day in my office with this problem. I have 19 partners who collectively probably see similar numbers of patients with plantar fasciitis every day. Do a little extrapolation and you can begin to imagine the amount of plantar fascial pain out there and then the cost of treating that pain. And with a couple of simple preventive measures, I really believe this pain could be eradicated. I’m looking for a Nobel prize here.

I know you were probably thinking I’d tell you about some life changing vitamin or some extract that would put cartilage back in your knees. Maybe I have a special exercise that will keep you from tearing your ACL. This foot stretching thing is so…mundane. So uncomplicated. But let me tell you that I’ve been doing it for about 10 years. I started the morning after the first morning I woke up with the dreaded heel pain. And I never experienced a second morning of waking up with heel pain. But don’t wait until you have heel pain to start stretching your feet in the morning.

I think there are a lot of preventive measures we can utilize which don’t affect the quality of our lives and may keep you from experiencing pain and some disease. It just so happens that foot stretching to prevent plantar fasciitis is a great example; a very simple example of that kind of preventive measure. It takes about two minutes to stretch your feet and there’s really no downside to it. I love that kind of prevention. Lots of potential benefit…little downside.

Let’s compare it to a mammogram. Now there’s a test with lots of potential benefit, but it comes with some downside. It’s uncomfortable. A complete stranger has to grapple with your breasts. It takes at least four years to get a little used to it. There’s a little radiation exposure. Plus it takes a couple of hours out of your day and you can’t put on deodorant that morning. You see where I’m going with this?

Let’s compare it to taking a baby aspirin every day. There’s a preventive measure with potential benefit, but in some people taking a baby aspirin can cause ulcers. If you are taking aspirin, it could be risky to take other anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or Aleve, Celebrex or Lodine.

But let me assure you, stretching your feet in the morning will not give you gas or indigestion. It will not cause erectile dysfunction and has absolutely NO untoward drug interactions. The instructions come without a 3 page list of side effects.

As you begin to realize that full wakefulness is imminent, begin to wiggle your feet up and down.  Don’t be too aggressive. No need to wake anyone up. Take hold of the top of your flat sheet and gently pull it snug. Then press your toes against the firm sheet, using the sheet to assist in stretching the bottom of your foot. You’re trying to stretch the plantar fascia.

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Okay, now there’s your 30 second stretch with a lot of beni’s and few to no side effects or diminished quality of life. But if you want to take it one step further, and I would recommend that you do, then sit up and swing your feet around to the floor. Take one foot and pull your big toe backwards, just to tolerance. Don’t try to dislocate the joint.

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While doing this you’ll be able to feel a little band on the bottom of the foot. It will feel like a bowstring. Some of that is your plantar fascia; the thing that gets so tight and causes so much misery. Massage it with your other hand. Do the same thing on the other foot. Then put your feet on the floor. If you feel pain in your heel, then start over with the stretch and massage. Repeat as needed.

What I’m really hoping for is prevention. If you already have heel pain, this might not make it go away instantly, but these stretches are an integral part of the treatment regimen for plantar fasciitis. Just keep doing that every morning before you get out of bed. If you do this before you have pain, in other words, you use it as a preventive measure, you will likely never experience the misery of heel pain.

 

More in a few days.

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6 Responses to Plantar Fascitis

  1. Joann McCracken February 10, 2012 at 10:56 pm #

    Love the easy going, humorous writing style. Wish I had known the exercises for plantar fasciitis before.
    Like exercises that are incorporated into everyday life.
    This website was recommended to me by Rattlesnake Annie.

  2. blb February 13, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    I know I’ve said it on this or other blogs; I love to multi-task, and if I can get one thing done while I’m doing something else, it’s all good. Make it a habit to sit with your feet flat on the floor and then slide them under your chair just a little, so you can get that stretch on the bottom of your feet. If women over 35 would just start doing that 5-6 times a day and once in the morning before standing up, I think we could eradicate plantar fascitis! And then I could get the Nobel prize for medicine!

    Thanks to Snake for helping me to get out the word!

  3. Hegwynne September 28, 2015 at 11:29 pm #

    Oh, how I, too, wish I had seen this before I went through very painful and expensive plantar fascitis treatments. That simple little exercise right there is what finally got rid of it. I’ve only had one recurrence of the problem. Guess when? When it stopped hurting and I quit doing the stretches. A month later it felt like I was walking on broken glass again. Back to the stretches and no more problems 😀

    • Barbara September 29, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

      It’s been a while since I wrote this blog, and I can’t remember if I addressed the way women sit compared to men. If you’ve read the comments on hip bursitis, you will know that I encourage women with various lower extremity maladies which are suffered mainly by women, to Sit Like A Man. But it goes double for the feet and plantar fascitis. Why is this condition seen almost exclusively in women? Is it a hormonal thing? Is it a tissue quality thing? My opinion is that it also pertains to the way we sit. First of all, most women have shorter legs than men, and so their feet don’t always reach the floor when they’re sitting. Secondly, we’re also more likely to sit with our feet flexed and toes pointed: when we sit with our legs crossed, tucked under us, or crossed out to the side. This results in routine shortening of the plantar fascia, making it more likely to sustain micro tears when we stand up.

      Try to sit with your feet flat on the ground as much as possible. If your seat at work or home is too high, then look for some of those old bench step aerobics benches. Put one or two at the foot of the chair so that your feet can reach and sit flat on the surface. This will help prevent or treat plantar fascitis. It will also take some pressure off the back of your thighs.

  4. Lois West February 18, 2017 at 7:07 pm #

    Do you have a book that shows the exercises good for my bursitis?

    • Barbara February 22, 2017 at 8:41 pm #

      Just the stretches that are on my blog entry on plantar fascitis. I don’t have a book out yet. I have one in the works though. I’ll have a few more in that publication. Watch for it on my blog. But the two stretches on my blog entry are the best. Plantar fascitis is also benefited by sitting like a man! Most men sit with their feet flat on the ground. Women’s feet, in most cases, can’t even reach the floor flat, so they often sit with their feet pointing down. This shortens the achilles tendon and the plantar fascia. Find a board or one of those bench step aerobics boards to put under your chair at work so that you can have your feet flat on the ground. This will help.

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