In 2007, I suffered something fierce from bi-lateral plantar fasciitis and didn't run for six months. Because of my experience, I learned a lot of useful information (albeit a little too late at times). I want to share what I discovered, just in case you or someone you know is in a similar situation. (This entry stars my dogs with cameo appearances from my cat, The Wookiee.)
My healing began when I realized my PF wasn't just an overuse injury from running but was cumulative from standing all day & on concrete floors, lack of arch support in my shoes, walking barefoot, tight calf muscles and genetics. While I'd been plagued with PF before, what made this bout different was that it didn't respond to the usual round of ultrasound, message and physical therapy. My new physical therapist used a wooden knobble to break up the scar tissue in my feet. (Ouch, more please.) She also advised that to run with PF would delay my healing and continue to tear my already inflamed & micro-torn fascia. She implored me to STOP RUNNING—immediately! Initially this was really difficult for me to embrace until I understood WHY: I was re-injuring my feet by running. So like a good patient I followed her advice.
Furthermore when I thought I was helping my feet by using a foot roller, I was instead damaging them BECAUSE I applied too much pressure while ice-rolling. This might seem obvious but in case it isn't I'll spell it out: Do NOT stand on the foot rollers/frozen water bottle when messaging your arches. Instead, be seated (like I am in this video) and gently roll your feet across the surface of the roller/bottle.
To combat my PF, I took a "leave-of absence" from running for six months. That's a long time for a runner. Still I considered my life-long love & relationship with running and I looked upon this hiatus as essential to the bigger picture and my healthy running future. As, I am adamantly against cortisone shots and I avoid using anti-inflammatory pills for more than a week, my plan took a longer purposeful duration.
I treated my PF with a cocktail of remedies: time off from sports (that impact the feet), arch support bands, message, ultrasound, Futuro Night Splints, icing, gentle stretching, and changes in my behavior. Behavior changes included no walking barefoot for more than a few minutes, wearing arch supports (Powerstep Pinnacle) in my shoes and stretching more regularly. All of these things worked and when I feel a twinge of the PF, I begin this cocktail of remedies.
Trail Pixie's "Feet-back" on orthotics & arch supports:Despite two different podiatrists fitting me for custom-made orthotics (both soft & hard), what's been best for me were the full-length Powerstep Pinnacle orthotics, which I wear daily. From time to time I also wear Arch Sleeves when the PF aches/flares up. Added benefit: doubles as a cat toy.
Trail Pixie's thoughts on the "oh-so sexy" night splints:
I HIGHLY recommend the Futuro Night Splint (or one of similar design). I am modeling my well-loved pair in the photo. Initially I tried the FootSmart Passive Night Splint. It was too hot and interfered with comfortable sleeping. I also developed achy knees from wearing it (!) so I found the shorter, more comfortable and less hot (but still "sexy") AirForm Night Splint. I do NOT recommend the Strassburg Sock and any contraption it resembles because I believe it stretches the wrong area (the toes) versus gently holds the fascia in a passive position preventing it from tightening up overnight.
Trail Pixie endorses all foot rollers pictured here:Winner: the frozen water bottle! (Go green runner/re-cycler/re-user & the thrifty);
Runner Up: the black & white wheeled wonder. (Hits all the right spots without the chill.);
Sweep: the wooden roller (Textured for that special something.).