I love going barefoot. I am just one of those people who only wears shoes when absolutely necessary. I have been this way for as long as I can remember. There is something wonderful about walking barefoot, feeling the unique surfaces below your feet. Getting married on the beach was so romantic and special, and one of the best things about it was being barefoot.
I think this love of being barefoot has made it even more annoying to deal with nagging heel pain known as Plantar fasciitis, one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes.
According to the Mayo clinic, “Plantar fasciitis is particularly common in runners. In addition, people who are overweight and those who wear shoes with inadequate support are at risk of plantar fasciitis.” Well I’m not much of a runner but I am overweight and I do wear shoes with inadequate support (flats and flip flops are my main shoe choice).
I did ask my doctor about my heel pain, and she recommended that I work on reducing the inflammation (with ice and ibuprofen) and stretching the fascia. Basically – it was up to me to deal with this. She said I could try a brace to see if that would help.
I have tried various methods to help, and some of these techniques have worked better than others.
Stretching the fascia or ligament can be done manually, but it’s very awkward to try to pull your toes back to stretch. It feels great when I ask my husband to do this, especially when we are just sitting watching TV. You can also stand on the edge of a stair step and extend your heel below the step to help stretch. Another method that is recommend is to rub your foot across a golf ball or tennis ball, curving your foot around the ball to extend the arch shape and stretch the ligament. Some people even recommend using a frozen golf ball to reduce inflammation as you stretch.
I decided to try a Plantar Fascitis Night Splint Brace that my doctor recommended, so I looked on Amazon and found one that was pretty reasonably priced. I followed the instructions and put the brace on my foot and it did feel better the next morning, so I was really encouraged. Unfortunately after a few days the pain returned, despite the brace. I had to look for other solutions.
The other techniques involve ways to reduce the pain and inflammation. Using Advil or Aleve products do help, but I don’t think of this as a good long-term solution.
Icing the fascia really helps with both the pain and inflammation, but it can be tricky to ice the bottom of your foot. I did find a really great product on Amazon called IcyFeet that is hard plastic molded to the shape of your foot, and you just throw it into the freezer. I found this to be really helpful and no messy dripping, but you do need to wear a sock when you ice your feet, as it does get really COLD.
After a few weeks of icing and Advil my heel did feel better, but when I do too much walking or wear flat shoes all day the heel pain can return. I know that losing weight will also help – but of course that involves exercise yet walking and running are a challenge, because if I do too much the pain returns. I keep the Icyfoot ready in my freezer and I do the best I can.