It’s the pain in your feet when you get out of bed and walk a few steps in the morning…it’s uncomfortable, a bad way to start the day and it may be Plantar fasciitis (pronounced “plan-tar fash-ee-EYE-tis), also sometimes known as a heel spur.
This can be a debilitating condition that makes walking even a short distance a painful prospect. The pain, ranging from mild to severe, is typically centered around the bottom of the heel though it may also extend across the entire bottom of the foot. It is often most noticeable first thing in the morning when you get out of bed and take those few steps or when you stand up after sitting for a long time.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
There are a number of possible causes for this condition that we inherit or accumulate over time. The main ones are:
-Standing for long periods of time
-Wearing shoes with little support
-Having flat feet
-Having exceptionally high arches
-A sudden increase in activity
-Tight calf muscles
-Overpronation (walking on the outsides of your feet)
The plantar fascia is a band of tough fibrous tissue that extends from the heel bone to the base of the toes. When it becomes irritated and stretched due to one of the above conditions, pain and bone spurs can result.
The muscles in your foot may also be involved, especially if the pain occurs after long periods of standing, lots of walking usually because the foot is working to constantly try to correct it’s position in poorly fit shoes. With overwork, the from these activities, muscles in your feet tend to shorten, becoming less resilient and more liable to tear.
Healing usually takes time. However, there are some things you can do to help ease the pain and speed the healing process.
What you can do to ease the pain of plantar fasciitis:
Get expert treatment- this starts at your chiropractor’s office, getting evaluated to see if specific body adjustments and therapy to your feet may help. The treatment prescribed can decrease the tightness and pain and may involve the use of pain-less manipulation of the foot, stretching, ultrasound and soft tissue work.
Since one common cause of plantar fasciitis is overpronation, a series of chiropractic adjustments can ensure your bones are properly aligned, allowing for greater range of motion and helping to take some of the strain off the overworked muscles in your feet.
You might benefit from the use of uniquely prescribed orthotics from your chiropractor and exercises you can do at home to gently stretch tight muscles and tendons.
What can you do at home?
The first thing is to rest the foot as much as possible. Applying ice to the area can help reduce the inflammation, as can taking an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen. Many people with plantar fasciitis find it helpful to wear Birkenstocks or other shoes that have good arch support. In the long-term, however, you’ll want to address the cause of the problem and not rely heavily on over-the-counter medications or constantly “bandaging” the problem. As a chiropractor, I’ve seen people overcome this pain permanently.
Healing plantar fasciitis is a slow process that needs to be addressed as soon as it is a problem, if not sooner. The patterns have been in your feet for a long time, Much like you see a house settling, shifting and causing damage, your foot can shift and cause pulling and pain on the bones and joints. It may have taken weeks or months to get this way, but it is possible to stop the damage and the pain so it does not become a chronic problem in your life. Check out our free report “10 Questions to See if You Are Heading Towards a Foot, Ankle or Knee Injury and How to Prevent it”.
When you get a lot of pain in your feet and ankles, or they seem to “crack” a lot, or you feel like your feet are clumsier than usual, you may be on your way to sustaining an injury to your ankles.
The cracking and clumsiness that you may experience means there is some instability and weakness in your ankle. This weakness makes you prone to injury. If an injury occurs, it will likely be a sprained ankle or pain from an accumulating change in your bones and tendons that can lead to heel spurs (abnormal bone growth that becomes painful at the bottom of your foot) or plantar fasciitis and bunions.
There’s an important and quick exercise and stretch routine you can get in the habit of practicing so you can develop strong, stable ankles. It works just as simply as brushing your teeth, in fact, you may be able to do this while brushing your teeth every day.
Here’s what you do for 10 days to strengthen your ankles:
Day 1– Do a 3 minute range of motion (ROM) exercise for your feet. Take your foot and point your toes to your head, then to the ground. Hold each stretch for 3 deep breathes. Then rotate your foot left and right as far as it will go (hold each side through 3 deep breathes). Then roll your foot in and roll your foot out (hold each side for 3 deep breathes). Take 20 minutes to research a good pair of closed-toe shoes with a low sole and good mobility at the mid-foot that you can wear every day. Good shoes will make all the difference for creating strong, comfortable feet.
Day 2– Do your 3 minute ROM exercise and schedule a time to try on the shoes you researched.
Day 3– Do the 3 minute ROM exercise. With your scheduled shoe fitting on the books, take some time to compare other shoe brands too.
Day 4– Do the 3 minute ROM exercise. Now add star-pattern lunges to strengthen your leg and foot muscles. While one foot stays in the same place on the ground and with your hands on your hips, take a big step forward with your other foot and bend down into a lunge. Do this pivoting in a circle, rotating clock-wise into 3 other directions until you get back to where you started. Try on the shoes you researched- buy them if they’re comfortable, and you like them.
Day 5– Do the 3 minute ROM exercise and the star-pattern lunges 5 times around. If you regularly wear sandals and slippers, research for a good pair that will support your feet. Make sure they will be secure on your feet, give some arch support, have a flat sole (no platforms), and have a comfortable and cushioned pad for your foot on the inside.
Day 6– Do the 3 minute ROM exercise and the star-pattern lunges 5 times around. Schedule a time to try on the sandals or slippers you’ve researched.
Day 7– Do the 3 minute ROM exercise and the star-pattern lunges 10 times around. Remember, you’ve got a date for healthy feet when you’re going to try on those sandals you know you’ll wear all the time.
Day 8– Do the 3 minute ROM exercise and the star-pattern lunges 10 times around. Try on the sandals and slippers you researched – buy them if they’re comfortable and feel secure on your feet (like they will stay on without much effort).
Day 9– Do the 3 minute ROM exercise and the star-pattern lunges 10 times around. Are you wearing your shoes, sandals, or slippers and not going barefoot? If you are, that’s good. Make sure to rely more heavily on the shoes and sandals than the slippers. Your shoes are likely better made to support your feet, so you avoid pain or injury.
Day 10– Do the star-pattern lunges 10 times around and keep these exercises and stretches in your calendar, especially for next 11 days as doing anything for 21 days creates a new healthy habit. Start doing the 3 minute ROM exercises 2 times during the day, each time you brush your teeth. You’ll get extra brushing in too!
You may still have some cracking sounds coming from your ankle and feet joints from time to time, especially while they are adapting to your new shoes. This is your past joint fixations that are hard to clear out on your own. It’s important to take care of these right away so all the bones and joints above your feet and ankles aren’t in pain either.
We adjust our client’s feet and make the best shoe recommendations so your foot joints are moving free and comfortably much faster. If you have any questions or need help, contact us.
Most people don’t realize that bunions and painful toes are a symptom of a larger problem in how their body is functioning…and that problem doesn’t just go away with foot surgery.
Often the bigger problem with your feet is that they are not given the TLC (Tender Loving Care) that they should receive. This isn’t because we want to abuse our feet but often we just assume they are hardy enough to be left on their own.
Once the bunions are bad enough, surgery is usually the only option left. Unfortunately surgery is costly, painful, and often doesn’t fix the true cause of your bunions. On top of this, the correction of a bunion may cause problems with your foot movement afterward. What one researcher, L.D. Lutter, noted regarding bunion surgery was that it is not the best solution for runners, he says, “…a runner must be willing to trade relief of pain for a lower ability to run.”
Dr. Presley Reed, MD of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine documented in “The Medical Disability Advisor” that bunions are 2 to 4 times more common in women than in men. Are those fashionable shoes truly worth the cost to your feet? There’s better ways to show your feet TLC than with a high heel.
Prevention at many stages of bunion and toe-pain development can relieve the problem and pain. A little TLC before your feet get worse can prevent the degenerative changes that may be starting to take place in your feet. The best part of it all is that this prevention is easy and natural.
With a natural cure, you won’t just be relieving your feet from pain, but you’ll be helping your entire body feel better from your ankles, to your knees, to your back. You’ll be able to get back out there and enjoy being active without the nagging pain in your feet.
Here are 10 quick tips on what you can do to love your feet and stop the pain:
1. Temperature therapy. The rule of thumb is: heat therapy at beginning of the day. Ice therapy at the end. Use a moist heat pad or an ice pack that conforms to your foot.
2. Use arch support in your shoes, especially for flat feet or if you already have a bunion or twisted toes on one foot that look different from your other foot.
3. Strengthen the arch in your foot. Lay a pencil on the ground under the knuckles of your bare toes. Curl your toes down grabbing the pencil and, while keeping your entire foot on the ground at all times, work to draw your arch upwards. Or in other words, move the knuckles of your toes and the pencil curled underneath closer to your heal. If you feel some tightening in your arch…you are exercising the right muscle.
4. Choose good shoes. Generally choose a flat sole on your shoe – meaning a sole where the heal portion is not much thicker than the portion of the sole by the toes.
5. Realign your big toe. Place a rubber toe spreader between your big toe and the toe next to it overnight, while you sleep. This will help to separate the large toe from the others and help to realign it during the long period of time you are not on your feet.
6. Loosen your foot joints and relax the supporting foot muscles. Do this by pulling your big toe straight (not trying to line it back up where it should be, just straight out very gently, then let go…do this a few times). Follow by massaging the bottom of your foot as well as your lower leg muscles for 5 minutes with deep comfortable strokes.
7. Foot adjustments and body alignment. Make sure your joints keep moving fluidly with chiropractic foot adjustments and most importantly, whole body adjustments for all over pain relief. We do this in our office.
8. Stretch the bottom of your feet, also called the plantar fascia. This tough connective tissue can tighten and cause the bones and joints in the foot to hurt. Stretch your toes back towards your knee and hold for a minute at a time or roll a golf ball under your foot firmly for at least 5 minutes on each side.
9. Consider taking a glucosamine chondroitin supplement if you have severe joint pain. The dose recommended to be effective is 1500 mg glucosamine and 1200 mg chondroitin.
10. Move to an anti-inflammation diet to decrease the joint irritation and swelling that can lead to arthritis. Get plenty of vitamin E, C, and flavonoids in your diet. Eat more vegetables, nut oils, yellow grains and cooked beans (black, red, speckled) to load up on these antioxidants.
Just a little TLC each day will help you keep the toe pain away. Of course, it can be more difficult than this and everyone has unique conditions happening within their own body. We help clients regularly manage their foot, ankle and knee pain and get to the bottom of what’s causing it.
One easy exam is all it takes to start getting help for your painful feet and toes.
Pain in your feet or in the bunions that formed usually comes from the times you are on your feet. If you’re going to be on your feet a lot, the right shoes, as you probably know, are essential in decreasing pain at the end of the day.
The bunions you may have probably formed from the lack of good motion in your feet, which usually stems from the types of shoes that you have worn through the years and a lack of added support needed to meet your specific foot structure.
While you can easily get a recommendation for good shoes from a friend, you also need to find good shoes that are good for you and your feet specifically which takes more work.
But what are the right shoes? Everybody’s feet are different, so what may be right for one person may not be right for another. There’s skinny feet, wide feet, high arches, flat feet, feet with genetic differences that are passed down, and feet with old injuries. All of these factors have to be taken into consideration when looking for the right shoes.
There are two ways to get a good shoe for your specific foot needs; one is through trial and error. You’ve probably already tried a bunch of shoes before and you know what feels good to you now; this is a test you’ve undertaken on your own to find the right shoe. The only thing you have to watch for is that sometimes your shoes can mold or stretch to your feet so they seem comfortable for a time, but they are still not giving your feet the proper support. This will eventually fail you in avoiding foot joint degeneration and in stopping pain, especially if you put a high demand on them for a long period of time.
The second way to get good shoes is to ask an expert who knows about the specifics of how a shoe should be fitting your feet. There’s not only one arch in your foot, but there’s three important arches that need to be supported and 26 bones in your feet that can easily get ignored and left hanging without support and gets squished together, which causes pain. Also, your feet are different even from each other for a number of reasons.
Here’s one tip you can use to evaluate your own feet: Take a look at your feet when you are standing barefoot on the ground. Notice how some joints look more bent or rotated in your toes than the other side, and how one foot may flatten out more than the other. This tells you that your feet are different on each side. If one foot is flatter, that arch needs more support. If the outer toes are more rotated in on one foot more than the other, that side’s arch needs more support too. If you have a bunion at the big toe that’s bigger on one side than the other, that foot needs more arch support. Without the proper support, you leave your foot bones open to injury and degeneration in the near future, which will permanently deform your foot.
There are three major arches in the foot. Most people just think of the one big one in the middle that touches when you have your feet together. But all of them are important to stabilize your foot and offer foot pain relief. The one on the front, under the toes and the one along the outside of your foot are also important.
Feet are different from each other for many reasons; the main being that since your feet, ankles, knees, and hips get so much mileage that there is a small difference in bone lengths from your foot to your hips and joint. Muscle, ligament, and tendon strength may also decrease after injuries or overuse. Just like how you always turn right up a hill in your car, you can get more wear on the right tread of your tires, these small differences that you usually don’t notice can effect one foot differently than the other, especially with a lot inevitable use over time.
All of these factors can be analyzed by an expert so you can get the shoes that fit your feet comfortably. Our office can evaluate your special foot anatomy and help you diagnose the reason for your foot pain with a simple visit where we do our “Athletes Foot, Ankle, and Knee Evaluation”. This is effective for evaluating the cause of foot pain in non-athletes, as well as active athletes.
You’ve got a big active day scheduled in two weeks. You know you might have a lot of pain from being on your feet all day. Here’s how to prepare your feet so you support them and stop the foot pain before it starts.
You want the muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons to be ready for any event so they aren’t stressed and painful at the end of the day. Strengthening your foot muscles is like getting a better and stronger handle on a plastic bag needed to hold heavy groceries. Your muscles need to be strong and pliable to hold your bones in the joints properly and move your bones through the force of walking, jumping, or running. With weak muscles, the bones don’t hold strong in the joint spaces they are meant for and shift causing your foot joints to hurt.
Here’s the exercise you want to do 10 times a day two weeks before you have a big, on-your-feet event scheduled or you will be participating in an athletic event. This is one of the many tips that I give for every person’s unique needs.
Stand squarely on both feet. Put a pencil, length-wise, gripped under your toes on one foot. Act like you’re heightening your main foot arch (the arch that touches the other when your feet are together) and roll the pencil to you by pulling the arch of your foot up towards your head while keeping the outside of your foot, your heels, and your toes touching the ground. Do this 20 times on each foot every day. In two weeks this major arch should be stronger and help your foot get closer to being pain free when you need them most.
This is a great foot strengthener that will relieve pain. However, everyone is different and depending on your feet, any injuries your feet have had in the past, the stage of degeneration some of your joints may be under, disease processes that can affect the foot or just your unique body structure genetics, you may benefit from other exercises or treatment options. Any one piece of advice given doesn’t substitute for a thorough foot evaluation by an expert who can see the specific needs of your feet and ankles as you go about your sports and daily activities.
Put this tip to task for your next planned activity and feel free to let our office know how well you did.