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Marsh column: Treating plantar fasciitis

Q. I have been running a lot and have developed a case of plantar fasciitis. Besides anti-inflammatory medication what can I do to get rid of it?
A. I feel your pain! I too have been “stricken” with plantar fasciitis (PF).
Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammatory condition of the foot caused by excessive wear to the plantar fascia, the fibrous band of tissue connecting your heel bone to the base of your toes.
The plantar fascia supports the arches of the foot. Pain is usually felt in the heel and is often most intense with the first steps of the day or after long periods of sitting or standing.
Common sufferers are or can be:
– Middle-aged men and women but can be found in all age groups.
– People who perform sports which are repetitive in nature such as running.
– Rapid weight gain and being overweight.
– Feet roll in too much. This is called excessive pronation.
– People who wear shoes that don’t fit or are worn out.
(That is what happened to me. I had a favorite pair of shoes I continued to wear knowing they did not support me any more. I learned my lesson!)
– Tight Achilles tendons and/or calf muscles.
Plantar fasciitis sufferers should avoid open-backed shoes, sandals, and flip-flops.
They should rest and cut back on the activities that make the foot hurt.
Calf stretches and towel stretches can help ó along with a new pair of shoes.
Make sure they fit right, have good arch support and a cushioned sole. Heel cups or inserts work, too. I have great success with Lynco orthotics. I am not sure if they have them in Salisbury.
Ralph Baker’s shoe store is another great place where you can get great help with problem feet. Even if the pain is only in one foot, you need cups or inserts in both shoes.
Do not delay treatment as it might take anywhere from a few months to a year to get rid of plantar fasciitis. The longer you wait to start treatment, the longer your recovery.
If you have pain and swelling, you should ice your plantar fascia. One great way to do that is freeze a soft drink bottle (or any other bottle with “ribbles”) three-fourths full of water and put on a towel in front of chair. Sit in the chair with foot on bottle.
(You can watch TV while you are doing this.)
Roll bottle forward and backward ó massage and ice your foot at the same time.
Get “wild” do two feet at the same time!
Do not give up! Do not get discouraged!
With time and dedication ó and rest ó you will beat this.
nnn
Ester Marsh is associate executive director of the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA. Contact her with health and fitness questions at 704-636-0111 or emarsh@rowanymca.com.

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