For the last 22 years, I had been running along injury-free. Aside from the occasional muscle soreness, blisters, and chafing, I had not had any sort of injury ( too late to knock on wood). December 20th I woke up and couldn’t put my right foot down and felt a sharp pain through my heel. I was unable to bear weight on it and had to walk on my toes. I thought I had a stress fracture in my heel bone. Looking back, that would have been a better problem.
Ever googled ‘heel pain in runners’? Trust me, Google does not come up blank. Plantar Fascitiis. That phrase would be the most googled word on my iPad for the next 8 months. They say 10% of runners will have it at one point. Merry Christmas to me! I put this question on one running forum, what kind of recovery time have other runners experienced with PF ? In my mind, I would take a few days off and resume. #naïve. The replies to my question blew my mind! Replies ranged from 6 months, 9 months, 2 years to the dreaded; I’ve lived with it for years!!!! I was in disbelief.
Looking back to the weeks prior, when I would get out of bed in the middle of the night, the foot felt sort of ‘broken’ but would loosen up and feel normal the next day. Now at this point, the foot would loosen up slightly, allowing me to put the heel down after a few steps in the morning; but it caused too much pain to be able to run during the next 7 1/2 months that ensued:(
What did I try? What didn’t I try!
1. Chiropracor #1 ( for deep tissue work of the foot. This chiropractor believed my PF was a problem of the foot)
2. R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
3. Chiropractor #2 (for Graston and A.R.T therapy. These techniques break down scar tissue and muscle adhesions. The focus of this therapy was strictly on the calf and Achilles. This chiropractor believed my PF was due to a tight calf and Achilles, which in turned pulled on the fascia.
4. Foam roller and massage roller
5. Dorsal night splint- this took a loooooong time to get used to. I ripped it off in the middle of the night most nights in the beginning.
6. Compression sock
7. Apple cider vinegar – (ACV if you’re fancy:) I found another runner online who swore this helped her. She could have told me to drink cyanide and I would have done it. Of all the things I tried it was by far the cheapest and least time consuming.
8. Golf and lacrosse balls- rolled them under my foot to massage the fascia. The golf ball worked much better, I feel.
9. Orthopedic surgeon – This doctor xrayed my foot. He confirmed there was a heel spur but would not show me the xray. He stated I would just focus on it and believed it was not the cause of the PF. The thinking nowadays is that the spur develops to accomodate the pulled fascia and may actually help. He did give me a script for physical therapy, custom orthotics, and recommended I never walk barefoot. In his mind, ‘every step where the heel touches the floor delays healing’. Ironically one runner told me going barefoot for a week actually helped her. My surgeon recommended Crocs, arrgghh dislike! They ended up being very easy to slip on and comfortable, but overall I thought they looked like clown shoes, due to the very large toe box. I even wore shoes in the shower !
10. Arch supports -I bought OTC arch supports for high arches which are only sold at foot specialty stores. I held onto the prescription for the custom orthotic but did not fill it as I heard those were $$ and I really did love the ones I had.
11. Taping- the low dye taping didn’t seem to help and it looked a little bizarre for my calf to be taped in black tape while wearing shorts. Just sayin’…
12. Physical Therapy- this may have been the clincher! I believe after my first appointment she may have written in my chart female patient crying over not being able to run. May benefit from mental health services as well . Had there been a support group for runners who are injured, I would have been there! That’s Ok, I cried in the surgeons office, too. True story. My PT started doing some manual manipulations of my foot and said my subtalar and midtarsal joints were severely restricted. I had felt all along my problem was the foot in origin and not a tight calf or Achilles which is the cause of a lot of runners’ PF. She also had me start to run ‘offloaded’. This involved running on a treadmill while in a harness. The harness offloads a set amount of weight. You literally feel like you are running on air . I never knew running on the dreadmill would feel so great! Feeling my legs run again was simply awesome. I was also sent home with a list of ankle exercises. The one I felt to be the most beneficial was the ankle alphabet.
Almost 8 months from that morning I was back running again. It has been about a month now and I couldn’t be happier. Through all of this I always said, “I realize it could be so much worse”. I see that at work. Running is my outlet, my therapy, my endorphin release. Its one thing when you decide yourself to take time off, but when it’s forced upon you, and there are days where the weather couldn’t be nicer and the pavement is calling your name? Well, that was plain hard.
Have you been in the 10% that has had plantar fasciitis? What worked for you?