A Pain in My Foot

The Miracle: frozen tomato paste can

It's been 6 weeks. Six long weeks. Toward the end of that 5K race, sharp shooting pain started spreading through my left foot. So painful that walking to the car afterward was challenging.

Yep. I knew what it was. I had it the first time 25 years ago when I was teaching multiple high-impact aerobics classes most every day. Overuse brought on my first case of plantar fasciitis, but other stressors such as poor foot or arch support, obesity, age, improper muscle balance, or overly tight leg muscles can all be culprits.

You need to be mindful of your feet. The sooner you start treatment, the faster it heals. Dull or shooting pain and stiffness in the bottom of the foot, arch, and heel that doesn't go away is commonly plantar fasciitis.  In these cases, the soft connective tissue in the bottom of the foot become inflamed and painful. If foot pain is new to you or feels extreme, be sure to consult your doctor to determine the right treatment for you.

Since I'd had it before, I started with home therapy as soon as I got home from that race. I grabbed an ice pack and ibuprofen, reclined on the sofa, elevated my foot and iced it. Getting off that foot was the first step. I was on the sofa or hobbling around the rest of the day. Not fun.

  1. Rest. This part was the hardest. I had to stop walking and modify my yoga to give my foot time to heal. Knowing I wasn't ready to walk in that last 5K was really tough. It's not much fun to be forced to stay and watch from the sidelines!
  2. Ice. At first, I just iced my arch and heel with a frozen water bottle or ice pack. Then,  I discovered freezing a tomato paste can and rolling it under my foot was the ultimate anti-inflammation treatment for me. It works perfectly!
  3. Stretch the fascia.
    1. Stand close to a wall with the toes up on the wall and heels flat. This one was too hard to even attempt at first.
    2. Yoga's child pose with my toes bent under my foot worked well after the initial pain subsided.
    3. Roll the bottom of your foot on a tennis ball, golf ball, or a dryer ball. The golf ball worked great to work out the knots in my heel. You can even freeze your golf ball.
    4. New sneaks and arch supports
    5. Stretch calf muscles.
  4. Massage. It was incredible how much it helped when I had my massage therapist work on all that inflamed tissue! Thanks, Rebecca!
  5. DON'T GO BAREFOOT! I put my shoes on before I get out of bed.
  6. Good foot support. I've been attentive to good foot support since my first time. I faithfully replace my running shoes every 6 months and use arch supports. But, after 2 weeks of pain, I headed to Playmakers, our local athletic shoe specialist, and asked for some extra help. My $250 investment in my foot health included:
    1. New running shoes
    2. Arch supports with heel cups for my running shoes and dress shoes (I didn't know you need to replace the arch supports often, too, and mine were really old. Oops.)
    3. Great arch supports are critical!
    4. Sandals by Orthaheel. I'm totally hooked. Their arch support is so amazing that I bought two pairs. They are so comfy that my aunt tried mine on and immediately bought herself a pair online (highlighted at right!)
I'm happy to report that I had my first day "foot-pain free" this weekend! I know it's not finished healing yet. I can feel fatigue and dull aches later in the day when I overdo it. But, I'm getting there. Finally. I'll continue to be diligent with my treatment plan, but I know I'll be back to my 3 mile walks at some point, even though I know that full recovery can take up to a year! And now, I'll simply focus on walking 1/2 a mile without pain...