Yes, plantar fasciitis is super annoying. Years ago, I found a literature review (can’t find it anymore) that suggested that all interventions for plantar fasciitis were equally inefficacious, and it is a condition that takes about 18 months to heal. Ouch! Furthermore, my foot doctor told me that surgery alleviates the pain but undermines the strength of your foot.
But I discovered a few tricks:
- These boots that one wears overnight to keep your foot tensioned work quickly to alleviate acute pain. Don’t use the sock ones. Use the full size one that looks like a plastic cast for a broken foot. Don’t over tighten it. Just use it so that your foot is angled slightly more than 90 degrees. If you can’t sleep with it, the boot is probably too tight or too aggressively angled.
- Voltaren, a “arthritis pain reliever,” now available over the counter-generic as diclofenac gel, is a godsend. They key is that you can put it on your foot and avoid the digestive complications from oral anti-inflammatories. Voltaren got me running in less than a week.
- Some sports, because of how your foot is angled, do not aggravate the plantar fascia. For instance, downhill skiing is great—your foot is stretched by the ski boot, making it almost like an hours-long treatment. Similarly ice skating does not aggravate my fascia even if done for hours. So you can keep in shape.
- I’ve found that the elliptical trainer doesn’t aggravate plantar fascia, and so you can do it for hours without injury. Don’t buy a cheap elliptical, they’re junk. Don’t trust the reviews either. You need to spend over $1k. The Sole E35 is a solid choice. But my favorite elliptical is the Octane XT and Q series standing ellipticals, which have stride lengths over 20 inches. You can find them on Craig’s List. I bought one used from a commercial gym for about $1k.
- Watch out for watches! I got a new Garmin watch, and it nudged me to run long and longer. I found myself running 10ks every other day, and then ended up with plantar again, putting me back at 2 mile runs…
Don’t overdo it. When I feel pressure in my heel, I know I am close to injuring my plantar fascia. So, for me at least, this is a permanent running injury 🙁