It’s easy not to think about your health until something goes wrong. That’s especially true when you think about the health of your feet. They are workhorses that walk, dance, run, skip, and jump–until something happens. And when your feet hurt, your entire life is changed. You begin to think about comfort rather than fashion when choosing shoes. You begin to consider the distance between the parking lot and the door. In many cases you stop your regular exercise routine. Foot pain has the potential to radically change the quality of your life!
One common cause of foot pain that we see a lot at Acupuncture in the Park is something called Plantar Fasciitis. The Plantar Fascia ligament is a flat band that supports the arch in your foot, and runs from your heel bone to the base of your toes. Plantar Fasciitis develops when that tendon becomes inflamed, swollen, or strained, and most frequently appears as pain below your heel when you stand or walk. That said, the pain from Plantar Fasciitis may not always occur on the bottom of your heel, and instead be felt on the side of your heel or under the arch of your foot.
Plantar Fasciitis is frequently caused by the drop of the front-to-back arch in your foot. This happens for a number of reasons, including:
- High impact activities
- Weight gain
- Improper support from footwear
- Tight Achilles tendon or calf muscles
- Running, walking, or standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time
- Pronation (your feet rolling inward when you walk or run)
- Worn out shoes
Many people who suffer from Plantar Fasciitis get discouraged, because it can take a long time to resolve. The good news is that there are many things you can do to help speed up the healing process:
-Resting your foot is one of the most important things you can do for this condition. While it may feel like a tall order, remember that every step you take is flexing the arch of your foot, aggravating an already inflamed ligament.
-Ditch the flip flops and high heels, and invest in a good pair of shoes that offers plenty of arch support. Even if you think your current shoes have good support, if they’re more than a year old, they’re probably worn to the point that you need to replace them.
-Stretch your calves daily. While you technically can’t stretch a tendon, by stretching your calves, you are also gently pulling on your Achilles tendon, too. This is a good thing, because tight calves and Achilles tendons only aggravate (and may cause) Plantar Fasciitis.
-Get some support for your arches. You can find arch supports at good shoe stores. Other ways to add some support is through taping (we can help you with this) and a product called Strutz, which is a padded arch support that you can find at Walgreen’s.
-Acupuncture may help Plantar Fasciitis heal a faster. That’s because acupuncture has been shown to increase the anti inflammatory response, especially locally where the needles are placed.
It’s hard to do the things you want to do when your feet hurt. Many people who suffer from Plantar Fasciitis feel like they have very little control, especially because they have to keep walking on an injured foot. It’s good to know that while it may take awhile for your foot to heal, there are several things that you can do to help it heal faster.