Hello Plantar Fasciitis :-( Part II

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Part I of this post ended mid-way through my explanation of various strategies to combat plantar fasciitis (PF).  Here are more treatment methods.

Taping

Various taping strategies may be used to help alleviate PF symptoms.  Tape should help support the arch of the foot and help shoulder some of the burden borne by the plantar fascia.  There are two options.  First is the traditional white athletic tape.  This stuff can be rigid and uncomfortable but possibly effective.  Here’s a video on how to apply athletic tape in order to relieve PF.  And here is a slightly different method.

The other taping option is elastic therapeutic tape, (aka Kinesio tape.)  Elastic therapeutic tape became popular during the 2008 Beijing Olympics where many athletes were seen wearing the strange, multi-colored blotchy looking stuff on their legs, shoulders and other body parts.  Kinesio tape supposedly goes beyond simply providing support to injured areas but also may influence the healing process.  Here’s resource on how to apply this stuff.

Night Splints & Socks

For anyone interested in a more medieval approach to PF, you may enjoy the night splint.  Similar to the night splint is this specialized sock.  Both items are designed to provide a prolonged stretch to the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon while you sleep.  I recently spoke to an employee at a local running shoe store and she said these things are fairly uncomfortable.  Still, several posts I’ve read on various forums proclaim these things as useful.

Other methods

This guy swears by walking on gravel in his sock feet.  I think it must be the same principle as using a golf ball to break up the scar tissue associated with PF.  Other sources suggest freezing a can of coke and rolling it underneath the foot.  Here’s an example of a specific plantar fascia stretch from which some folks have had success.

I would suggest staying away from cortisone injections.  Cortisone is a powerful steroid that can provide very quick relief from PF pain.  The big drawbacks are 1) it’s a symptom treatment; it doesn’t fix anything, and 2) too much cortisone weakens connective tissue thus creating a risk of a rupture.

Nor can I see much benefit to plantar fascia release surgery.  This again doesn’t solve a problem but may create more problems.  Part of this surgery includes cutting the plantar fascia in order to release tension.  Problem is the plantar fascia is a major shock absorbing part of the body.  Altering that structure doesn’t seem wise to me.

My Strategy:

As I’ve thought about my own PF, I realize a couple of things: 1) I changed my gait and therefore changed how my tissues were being stressed.  2) I simply didn’t give myself enough time to adapt to this change.  3) I believe my PF is part of a larger puzzle involving faulty movement patterns.  Here’s my plan.

Rest

The one common theme I’ve seen and heard from those who’ve overcome PF is that rest is necessary.  Damaged tissues must be allowed to heal.  Therefore, I’ve greatly reduced my running and biking.  There seems to be no way around it.

Joint Mobility

If, as I believe, I have faulty biomechanics (i.e. I don’t move well) then no matter how much I rest and treat my injury, I can expect it and/or other similar symptoms to return once I start running again.  Thus I must search out those resources that will help correct my movement problems.  Z-Health is my chosen rehab system.  Why Z-Health?  Because the Z-Health methodology recognizes that there is probably more to my PF than simply heel pain.  My whole body–especially my nervous system–must be addressed in order to move better.

Z-Health has helped tremendously with my back and shoulder pain, and I’ve seen numerous others improve their performance through Z-Health.  I’m a certified Z-Health trainer but I recognize that I can’t solve all my problems on my own.  Twice recently I’ve visited with certified Z-Health practitioner Brian Copeland of Core Fitness in Aurora, CO.  I’ve been very impressed with my results thus far–especially after yesterday.  We did further testing on my neurological system and found that certain fundamental aspects of my movement coordination aren’t functioning quite correctly.  Among several exercises, we recently implemented cross-crawl patterns into my process.  All I can say is I’m stunned at how much better my heel feels!  In 24 hours the pain has subsided very significantly.  I believe correcting my movement patterns is the most significant and most complex part of my plan.

Structural Integration

I haven’t experimented much with massage though I’m aware of its role in many athletes’ lives.  Structural integration (Rolfing is a type of SI) involves manipulating connective tissue including the fascia.  In this way, my body should interact better with gravity.  Posture should improve, pain should diminish and I should move better.  Donielle Saxton is the Denver-area massage therapist with whom I’ll be working.  The details and principles behind this process is really fascinating.  For further information check out Anatomy Trains and KMI (Kinesis Myofascial Integration).

Cold Laser

Finally, I’m getting a bit of cold laser therapy at Mederi Health in Denver.  This is pure symptom treatment–and I’m OK with that.  Reducing the pain should help calm my nervous system and speed my return to normal function.

Shoe Insert and Taping

I recognize that my arch may need some help.  Therefore I’m going to bolster the area by way of a grocery store-bought arch support and Kinesio tape.

We shall see what happens.

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