Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Plantar Fascitis and 7 helpful tips!

     How protected are your feet!?  Back in the 80's I taught 10 high impact aerobics classes a week and ran 5 miles a day 6 times a week, (are you getting the picture here) I was the "Queen", ... Aerobics Queen that is!  In the 90's when I woke up in the mornings I would hobble to the bathroom from severe pain in the bottom of my heels, only to find that  miraculously on my return trip my heels felt much better!  How in the world does an empty bladder ease heel pain you ask!? Good question!  It's time to talk about Plantar Fascitis and how it presents itself and what you can do about it!  If you are an avid exerciser, there is a good chance this may sound all too familiar, and if not, there is a good chance you will experience this at some point in your life time.

     To begin with, Plantar Fascitis in simple terms is the inflammation of a thick fibrous band of connective tissue that runs from the heel to the toes.  Among the athletic, risk factors include overuse, high impact activities (this includes the ball of the foot as well as the heel), and long periods of standing.  Among the non-athletic, Plantar Fascitis is associated with obesity and lack of physical exercise.

     Plantar Fascitis is not hard to diagnose, I'm just an RN not an MD, ...BUT...I know a pain in my heel when I have one!  The pain is typically sharp and usually unilateral (70% of the cases).  Heel pain worsens by bearing weight on the heel after prolonged periods of rest or sitting, such as in the mornings after a night of sleep or too many hours at your desk.  The most intense pain seems to lessen after a few steps as the connective tissue begins to warm up, hence the empty bladder syndrome.  So as we see, there is no actual connection between the two!  ;)

     So, whats a girl (or dude) to do with the onset of heel pain!?  STOP THE OFFENDING ACTIVITY DUMMY!!!  (just kidding, ...but not really...)   In all seriousness, treatment that is started when you first notice symptoms is more successful with less time than treatment that is delayed.  About 90% of Plantar Fascitis cases are self-limiting and will improve within six months with conservative treatment, and within a year regardless of treatment.  So here are a few tips to try out before heading to the doctor if you choose to go this route as a first line of defense~
     1) REST!!!  While resting your feet completely is not realistic, limiting daily activities that cause heel pain is a first step.  Try to avoid running or walking on hard surfaces, such as concrete.
     2) ICE!!!  To reduce inflammation and relieve pain, put ice on your heel.  You can also try a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as Ibuprofen or Aleve.
     3) SHOES!!!  Wear shoes with good shock absorption and the right arch support for your foot.  Athletic shoes or shoes with a well-cushioned sole are usually good choices.  Podiatrist designed Vionic with Orthaheel Technology has given thousands of people the freedom to enjoy life free of foot, leg and back pain.
     4) CUSHION!!!  Try heel cups or shoe inserts (I have inserts in all my running shoes) to help cushion your heels.  I buy my inserts at the same time I buy my shoes, and most stores carry them.
     5) PROTECTION!!!  Put on your shoes as soon as you get out of bed.  I NEVER GO BAREFOOT!!!  Going barefoot or wearing slippers can worsen pain.
     6) STRETCH!!!  Do simple calf stretches several times a day, especially when you first get up in the morning.  These stretches can help warm your ligaments, thus increasing flexibility and strengthen the muscles that support your arch.
     7) WEIGHT LOSS!!!  Decreasing your weight if you are over weight or obese will certainly lessen the pressure on your feet as well as all the other joints in your body.

     I hope these tips have been helpful, and if this conservative care does not improve your condition make sure to make an appointment with your physician for follow up care.  And might I mention this Queen is now a proud Princess that practices low impact aerobics, cross trains, limits running and lifts weights.  Be sure to keep those tootsies protected at all times, after all, our feet is what we use to walk the path of life.  Enjoy the journey~in good health, paige  RN


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