Managing Plantar Fasciitis

Both times I’ve been preparing for a long distance walk, plantar fasciitis has kicked in, in one heel or the other. My right heel gave me grieve a few years ago during my training and through about the first three days of my walk. At that point it seemed to simply go away, but it’d been a long road of over-the-counter and prescription anti-imflammatories, gel heel cups, a cortisone shot, Smart Feet shoe liners, immersing my heel in a bucket of ice each night, and an ill-fitting custom orthotic to get it to that point.

Sure enough, once I began regular training for my upcoming May walk, good ol’ PL showed up again, but this time in my left heel. Good grief.

The podiatrist I see said, somewhat gleefully I thought, that if we lived long enough we’d all develop every known foot malady. Hallus rigidus, hammer toes, bunions and the cutely-named bunionettes, PL , among’d all come our way in due course. And, to no surprise, custom orthotics were his answer.

Just before seeing him, a blogger I regularly follow published the following post:


I’ve admired LadyonaRock’s walking for a long time and figured that her advice for PL was truly experienced advice for walkers.

I invested in a night sock and compression sleeves. I signed up with my podiatrist for custom orthotics. And, I bought a new pair of runners.

A few months later, here’s how I feel things are going.

First of all, PL is still very much part of my day. I know it’ll go away eventually (as a former Canadian doctor once told me: “PL doesn’t last forever. Don’t jump off a bridge.”) Gee, that’s helpful…

I gave up fairly soon on the night sock. I think the idea behind it is to keep that fascia stretched at night. It didn’t seem to do that, though, but instead kept my toes pulled at an uncomfortable angle.

The compression sleeve really felt good and I thought it did help. My podiatrist scoffed at both treatments, though, and implied, if anything, it was the placebo effect. Well, maybe, but, so what? I’m the one walking on my feet and if I feel that it helps, that’s good enough. I now wear them all the time while hiking (versus all the time while sleeping) as that extra layer does a good job in reducing the potential for heel blisters.

My new runners are great…snug and comfy.

But, I give a lot of credit to my custom orthotics. I wear them pretty much all the time (good thing I’m not a shoe fashionista because for them to work properly they require tightly-laced up footwear). I have only minimal PL pain, if any,while wearing them.

The times when PL does still remind me that it’s there is after sitting for awhile without my shoes and orthotics and then getting up. That can painful. My gym trainer has dealt with PL and he said to always…ALWAYS…roll my foot before standing on it after being off of it for awhile. This includes first thing in the morning. His explanation is that the tiny tears that develop in the fascia during the day are repaired overnight and rolling the fascia helps to gently stretch it before it absorbs all the weight of standing, which makes sense to me. I keep a small rolling bottle in our freezer for this for the evenings or even if I sit in the morning to read the paper for awhile, and a small (unopened) can beside our bed for rolling in the morning. Ice is nice, but not necessary, at least for me at this point in my treatment. However, I’d go straight for the ice if I had a lot of pain.

So, this is what seems to be working for me. Others have had great luck with gel inserts or over-the-counter orthotics. If I hadn’t already been seeing a podiatrist (even such a fatalistic one!) I’d have likely given those a try. I really like Smart Feet shoe liners and if I wasn’t wearing custom orthotics I’d absolutely use those. A friend mentioned a naproxen cream (versus pills), which I hope to take along with me in May if PL is still, by then, insisting on making the trip with me.

Treating PL seems to be a long series of trying different options and figuring out which work the best for each of us. Time, along with trying this and that, seems to be our best friend in the oh-so-common battle with PL.

But, even a day of walking with pain is better than a day of not walking at all, right?






About walksandrambles

My love of walking began in 2005, when, travelling with my Girl Scout troop to Switzerland, I joined a group of Norwegians for a day, to walk up Elsignenalp. I wasn't at all sure I could make it, but the guide was kind and through her encouragement, started out. It was an all-day affair for me and I was always the last one, but this didn't matter a bit...I'd found my new love! No photos exist for this...the camera went missing on a train...but I remember toasting myself with a cup of tea from my thermos at the was a day of tough work and pure pleasure. If you walk, you know what I mean!
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2 Responses to Managing Plantar Fasciitis

  1. wishartlane says:

    Nice article–much appreciated. Keep up the training and therapy!!

    Just back from a 6 mile, 1000 ft elev hike here in the desert, likely our last before we head north on the 31st. Hopefully we’ll get in some walking though in Sedona or around Santa Fe on the way home,,, Cheers!

    • Thanks..and your walk sounds great! I’ve been in the kitchen all day preparing for Easter, (in my runners and orthotics and my foot’s holding up) but once the cinnamon twisty bread comes out of the oven, we’re outta here 🙂 Any chance we’re on your way home?

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