Using exercise to help with plantar fasciitis

Most people have experienced some kind of foot pain. I’ve discovered that when my feet hurt, nearly every activity is a struggle. Problems with my feet have led to issues with my knees, hips and back. I finally went to a podiatrist and was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. A thick band of connective tissue called the plantar fascia runs along the sole of the foot, extending from the heel bone to the toes. This tissue becomes inflamed, making it feel as if the arch of the foot is tearing. I believe this problem is the result of my excessively high arches and running in unsupportive shoes. Because of my job, I also spend a lot of time standing on concrete floors. Everyday walking became excruciatingly painful and I gave up on regular exercise. I was not happy about this. Running, bicycling and regular physical activity was a big part of my life. I worried about losing muscle tone, gaining weight and developing other health problems. I did some research and discovered that there are ways to heal plantar fasciitis. Walking for exercise is actually a recommended therapy. I started by treating my symptoms with ice and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. I took ibuprofen every day and tried to minimize time and stress on my feet. I introduced targeted stretches. Before getting out of bed in the morning, I now make sure to slowly flex each foot and hold for ten counts. I relax my toes and repeat the exercise several times. I gently roll my ankles to ensure flexibility of the tissue around the ankle and on the back of the hell. I perform these exercises throughout the day and sometimes roll my foot back and forth over either a tennis ball or a frozen water bottle. After a week of this, I was able to walk with less pain. I invested in supportive, soft soled-shoes and a specialized insert to support the arch of my foot. I have slowly increased my pace and distance, switching from walking to running.