Monday, September 9, 2013

Rebound Recipe for Plantar Fasciitis + A very SPECIAL run

Looking for a quick fix to Plantar Fasciitis?            
                    
So am I.

While I can't offer an "easy button" for PF, or guarantee that what worked for me will cure yours. But, I can share my experience with it, and hopefully something might help another runner now, or in the future.

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, my injury presented itself at my heel and mostly on the outside edge of my (high-arched) foot. PF typically is in the heel and inside arch of lower arched runners. Most of these suggestions should work for typical PF, but a physical therapist or podiatrist will give you personalized treatments.

There are LOADS of PF treatments out there, and some novelty items to buy (none of which I tested, though considered buying all of them!). This post only highlights those things which helped me the most.

Necessary evil: Reduced load/Time off
Once diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis, you must have the self-discipline to ease your running load so that it does not get worse.

-For me that meant complete rest from running, and very limited walking and standing for awhile.
-It meant icing after walking, even just a 5-10 minute walk.
-It meant admitting that trying to run 3 miles every other day actually made the PF flare up again, making it worse. (In the past, this was a conservative return to running which worked well for me).
-And, it meant waiting things out until I realized the PF wasn't getting worse or better. It was just "there" and might need some treatment in order for it to go completely away.

Treatment 1: Standing calf stretch and Achilles stretch (stretching)
-Each morning, right out of bed, I did 1 min of standing calf stretch and one minute of Achilles tendon stretch, per foot/leg BEFORE walking away from my bed.
-I repeated it at least 2 more times a day, usually while making lunch or dinner, and before bed.

Treatment 3: Eccentric Achilles Loading (strengthening)
-I did these exercises before I started getting better from PF, but it really started to improve when I got consistent with them. 3 sets of 10 each day, both legs.
    Sorry to disappoint you if you were hoping to see a video of my calves. :)


Video link shared via Gold Coast Physio Clinic

Treatment 4: Strengthening
Towel scrunches. Place a towel on a slick floor and sit in a chair. Use your feet to grip the towel on and off for 30 times. Repeat.

Treatment 5: Massage
 I scheduled a trigger point massage when healing seemed to have hit a plateau. The swelling was gone and my foot mostly just felt "tight", and mildly sore with serious pressure applied. I had a feeling that there was still something in my calf that seemed to be "pulling" my foot, so I booked a massage for trigger point therapy.

I also started running again the day before.

The massage therapist found a series of small knots where the calf  and soleus wrap around to meet the front shin bone. She aggressively worked them, and also worked all over my calves, soleus, and the heel where the plantar fascia attaches. Getting off the table it felt as if there had never been PF. It got sore again later in the day, but since then I have noticed that getting out of bed and walking is no longer a problem. Whatever she did loosened, or readjusted, the muscles and/or plantar fascia immediately.

In hindsight, I wish I had booked this WAY back in October.... I am scheduling regular appointments for calf/foot/lower leg massage now. This has become as important to me and my running as my shoes. 

Running Strategies
After 4 layoffs, it was clear to me that I needed to be much more conservative in how I made my return to running. After some research I landed on a rebuilding plan which has been working pretty well.

My first run back was only 10 minutes long, barefoot, and on the football field grass. Ten minutes doesn't sound like much of a run, but when you haven't ran in weeks, it tastes pretty much like chocolate covered strawberries.

I only wore a regular watch (No GPS or HRM= no pressure or temptation), so that I could be sure to cut myself off and not go over that 10 minute window. It was designed to be a test to see if my foot could withstand the rigors. I iced, massaged, did all my PT exercises that night and the next day.

Since then I have been running a little longer and a little longer (for time) every other day. Last week I started mixing in some gravel road running with trail shoes and one pavement run, to where I am up to 4 miles. The PF is still improving (faintly noticeable in the morning) and almost gone. Praise GOD! Every run I thank Him for allowing me to do this passion of mine.


Have you had PF? 
If you are dealing with Plantar Fasciitis, or have had it and beaten it, I would love to hear your experiences below in the comments section!
More reading on PFHERE
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There are some benefits to only being able to run short runs and slowly.

For the first time, I took my oldest son, 8, on a run with me.
We went to a nearby gravel trail and set out at a nice leisurely trot- about 2 minutes/mile slower than what I have seen him run a leisurely mile in.

My hope was just to take it easy and run for 30 minutes straight. I didn't tell him this. Or maybe I did... but he didn't bat an eyelash! We discussed ahead of time that we would go slow, so we could make it the whole time. And, that if N got too tired he could walk and I would keep running a little, then double back to check on him.

About 400 meters into the run the road went uphill.

He started to mention that he was feeling tired, so he walked...and noticed he could walk as fast as I was running :).

As we got near the top of the hill, he picked his pace up again, like  a wind-up toy let go! Meanwhile, I tried to maintain steady-as-she-goes.

He slowed down again to match me, and I tried to distract him with chatter about trees and asking him to keep a look-out for wildlife.

We kept together for awhile when he mentioned that he "needed an extra tank"... So we slowed it down a bit. And I shared with him that he could grow and "extra tank" by practicing running.

The see-saw running ahead and walking reminded me a bit of my first half marathon where I ran an even pace for nearly 2 hours, while two other ladies zipped ahead and then I caught them doing their "Gallowalk" method.

This point, I think, is when N started doing his ninja moves on stray weeds overhanging the road- while jogging. Or, it might have been when he started doing the "running funky chicken". I can't remember...But it must have been exhausting, because he had to walk again.

As we got about 500 yards from the car, someone shouted "First one to the key is a rotten egg!" (He likes to be the rotten egg), and the race was on!

We got to about 100 yards away and he was winded, so we walked a little way. Then I started to run, a little quickly, and N shot right past me with all sorts of reserved energy.

He might have beat me to the key.

There was a peach waiting in the car for him, which refueled N enough to restore his chatter box for the ride home.

I told N that he did GREAT!!!! asked if he thought maybe he would like to run a 5k, since we ran "almost" three miles. He said, "If I can run and walk in it."

Any answer would have been OK, but that made me smile. He makes a pretty good training partner.





58 comments:

  1. Great post Hun, your injury sounded horrible, glad the massage helped. Loved how your little one jogged with you, so amazing and only 8yrs old.. Bless him. Made me laugh when you mentioned running the funky chicken.. Brilliant!! Lol
    Look forward to reading your next post.xxx

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Bei!
      He is my personal comedian..love him to pieces. ♥

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  2. Awwwww. Sweet story about your little guy. I've been trying to get Evan to run with me during my season of injury and slow running but no dice! Not interested.

    Was so thrilled to read your last blog post, BTW. And this one too. Hooray!

    Well, you know that I know how you feel. Definitely no quick fix here with PF. I'm going on my 5th month of it. Still think, "Yikes!" when I get out of bed each morning, but things have improved enough that I've been able to steadily increase my mileage each week, and at the close of this week, if all goes well, I'll end with 48 miles total. Getting there.

    I tried EVERYTHING for my PF. The thing that worked best for me was ART. Sounds a lot like your massage except the chiro would get in there and crunch my heels to pieces. At $90 a pop X 2 times a week for about 5 weeks though... Ouch. But it was so worth it.

    I suppose that MAF training and the painfully slow runs I was doing helped too although I SO did not have the glowing results with it that I've seen around the Internet. It lasted 9 weeks before I dumped it. More on that in my blog later if I ever update it. Maybe my heart doesn't work like other people's? At any rate, it helped my injury heal and my body stay fresh, so it did something.

    Looking forward to continued great updates from you. Happy running!

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Allison!
      I am not sold that N is on fire for running, still- and that is OK! He might never run with me again- he loses interest I won't push. Really, I think he just wanted to go somewhere and I was going.. :)

      I am sorry you are still battling this. It is hard on the mind!! - and the body. Are you still keeping up on the chiro visits?

      About MAF- no glowing results if you stay at base forever, but the idea is to build the miles / base up, safely, going farther at the same HR without it climbing. Then incorporate your speed. THAT is when the real results will blow you away, and hopefully keep you from getting injured. But, I never used the Maffetone method for heart rate. And, I think your heart is normal!! LOL :D And you are getting better from PF..right? It does tend to linger..

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  3. Fortunately, I've never had a huge bout with PF. But occasionally I'll start to feel it coming on. When that happens, I usually go to the tennis ball on the arch - I'll use it while I'm watching TV, and if my arch's are tight enough, the tennis ball almost brings tears to my eyes, but it seems to help.

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    1. Great tip on the tennis ball, Jim! Also, I have used a small wooden craft ball, and other pokey plastic objects. Press, hold, release. Glad to hear you have avoided it so far. Hope it stays that way! Thanks for reading today. :)

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  4. Good to hear you're doing well. Keep the progression gradual and you should be fine.

    I've had PF a couple of times, but only once 'bad', about 10 years ago. I think I was lucky in that I stopped running very early in the piece (before it got bad). I had 3 weeks off from all exercise. Resumed running as you did, on flat grass. I think this is one secret - avoid ALL uphill running (until you're completely over the injury). I also used 'Tulis' heel cups in my shoes, which helped a LOT. It took a long time - 12 months or so, to get to the point where I didn't need the Tulis. Also iced arch regularly by rolling it on ice filled 'coke' bottle. Very gradual progression back to full training.

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    1. These are some useful tips, Ewen. Thanks for sharing! The frozen water/coke bottle is something i am familiar with, but you are the heel cups are a new one. Would that be to lift, or just cushion?

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    2. Small lift. Mainly it wraps around the heel and takes pressure off.

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  5. So glad to hear your PF is on the mend Raina!
    That is interesting about the massage - I have been considering getting a couple during my half marathon training as I'm sure I have lots of knots everywhere!
    Love the story of your run with your son :)

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    1. I am excited you are training for a half! Yes- you should go in for a massage. One of these days I will get a relaxation massage and fall asleep, but the deep tissue/ trigger point is much more beneficial to me as a runner. Thanks for commenting today. Best wishes with your training!

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  6. Very happy to hear it is on the mend! And, in some ways, the running you've been doing to get back to it sounds pretty amazing!

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    1. Thank you Abbi! Any running is pretty amazing right now- lol :) But it's made extra nice with my kiddo.

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  7. Great to hear from you Raina! And Great post. So helpful for many. Must share. I really have missed your posts...informative and thoughtful. Glad you're slowly coming back. And looks like you have someone to run with! Love that we can start running with our kids. E just joined Girls on the Run today...she's so excited!!

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    1. Thanks Amanda! It is a quick transition from finding a sitter to actually being able to run with them, isn't it? I would say 2 more years, and I could take all three on a 3 miler... maybe. ?
      I'm excited for E!! What a great opportunity! I bet she wants to be just like mama. :)

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  8. Ah Raina! Great to read a post from you! I was JUST talking about you with a friend this weekend about PF and I will pass on this post to her! As well as hold onto the information for myself! I am SO happy that things seem to be improving. Love that shot of your kiddos from behind! You are starting WISELY with N!! SO fun to involve our kids! I used to have an occasional training partner in my daughter. I think those days are perhaps almost gone as she's now smoking me-ha!!

    Again, great to read a post from you!! Thinking of you SO often lately!!

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    1. Glad to hear from you :) I hope your friend gets better soon and that something here helps her/him.
      Your daughter- such a spit-fire runner, and getting better and better! I bet she will slow down a tad for a recovery run with mom- but I bet you can keep up :)) You guys would have a blast! It would be a running conversation full of comedy and love.

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  9. Oh such great info Raina! My neighbor is struggling with PF so I will pass it on. Glad things are getting better and better. Love the story of your ru n with your little guy. Precious!

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    1. Thanks for sharing it Marcia! I hope your neighbor gets better soon. Have a great week, lady :)

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  10. A couple of years ago I developed chronic PF that I could not beat. For 8 long months I tried everything - corrective shoes, sleeping in a boot, constant icing and stretching, tons of prayer and even more whining before a girlfriend recommended Astym Therapy. It took 12 sessions to totally cure me, but I have been pain free for 2 years now and I wholeheartedly recommend it! I wrote a blog post about it back in May if you'd like links and stuff.

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    1. Thanks so much for adding in your experience! The Astym sounds very similar to massage- but with a more holistic approach.? Feel free to add a link in the replies to your PF posts, if you like!!

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  11. I could teach PF 101 and the advanced course, too :). Two years I struggled with it (as you know)....it took lots of knocking on many, many doors until I found someone who didn't want to slap a Bandaid on it. I knew in my heart it wasn't a matter of some exercises to cure it permanently, it was a muscle imbalance and weakness (otherwise I'd have it on both sides)....so I kept knocking on doors until someone listened to me and helped fix the improper foot strike and weak abductor and glute muscles. It took about 5 months to complete go away....and I've been running pain-free, not even one spec of pain, for over 2 years now. I could go on and on, but you seem to be on the upswing and, well, you can always go back and read all my past blog posts, or email me :).

    Looks like an awesome time with your new training partner!! :)

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    1. I commend you Jill, for your patience and maintaining your sanity! 2 years is a looooong time, and I remember you didn't know what yours was either. Finding the root cause is very important, but it is strange how many people will have it just go away mysteriously (see article link).
      The PT I saw in either April or May tested all of my major muscles and found no big muscle imbalances, but she did say that I have much better dorsiflexion in one foot than the other. I need to work to improve that with some exercises I didn't post here. She also mentioned that one foot has a higher arch than the other, so as much as I hate to say it, I might go to a podiatrist - considering it anyway, as a last measure.
      Thanks so much for commenting. You have years of experience and wisdom here!!

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  12. I love running with my son, too, and I'm glad there was that silver lining to you having to slow down for a while. PF is nasty--one of my friends had to take two months off to make hers go away. But you do learn something from injuries, and I know you will be stronger and faster in the future because you dealt with this.

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    1. Thanks Terzah! 2 months is a long time. It gives a person lots of time to cross train and research, pray, and resolve to do everything better next time. Thanks for your continued encouragement, friend. ♥

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  13. Raina, I am "re-joining" the blogging world today after being gone almost the entire summer and was so happy to come across a post from you today!! And happy to hear that you are on the slow road to recovery from PF. I have never had it myself (knocking on wood right now) but can commiserate with you on being injured. I am hoping to start running slow later this week, assuming my orthopedist gives me the thumbs up.

    And what a fun run with your little one!!

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    1. Glad to hear from you sweet lady! I guess we both were in hiding for a season. Sorry to hear you have been out of running for a time. Thanks for reading and commenting! Off to see what you posted now :)

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  14. I think I have PF now and have had it since last Nov. It's the heel bone for me, but I know it's related to calf tightness. I won't go to the dr for a diagnosis because I'm too stubborn to stop running. It has definitely gotten a little worse as my mileage has increased for my marathon in a few weeks. I just keep icing, rolling and stretching which at least keeps it manageable. I a lot of the strengthening and stretches you posted, so at least I know I'm doing something right :)

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    1. I totally understand you not going into the doctor over this. So often, we just have to let things run their course and see what happens. It might go away for you next week! I hope it does- there's no telling with PF.
      DO go in and get a massage ASAP. Let them know what you think it is, and see if the LMT can work some magic on you.? Thanks for reading/commenting today!

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  15. I'm glad you are back to running some!

    I can't remember if I told you about my PF or not? I had it for almost a year. I got in my my healthy leg, while I was on crutches with a tibial stress fracture. Mine sucked really bad in the mornings, and was my heel, and outer foot area as well.

    I tried 2 different night splints, and while I feel they do help, I only made it a couple of times, the entire night in them. Every morning, I'd wake up, and it would be on the floor. Oops.

    The frozen golf ball massage helped me tremendously. It hurt a lot while doing it, but my foot felt great after.

    I thought I would be forever dependent on frozen golf balls, until we went to Mexico for a wedding. I did some barefoot beach running, (until I kicked a rock and broke my toe), and my PF was gone by the time I got home. Weirdest thing ever, though I'm not complaining.

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    1. That's a very interesting story about how you got your PF to go away. Maybe now we can all get PF and go to Mexico to run barefoot on the beach!!!?!
      Only kidding, of course. :D
      So much of what you share in your blog with your feet and injuries sounds similar to me. I think the main difference has been that you have had SFX, and somehow I have escaped it, but i think we both supinate and were in the wrong shoes for a long time.
      Hope you're running strong right now, Kristy. Thanks for commenting!

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  16. Nice to hear that you're "on the mend", Raina, it seems like just a tiny bit of a miracle when you realize that you're actually recovering from PF because, when you're deep in the midst of it, it feels like running is something which will NEVER happen again! Not much to add on the subject, your experience kind of mirrors my own, but a few of the things I found most helpful were rolling my foot on frozen water bottles, looping a towel around the ball of my foot and pulling the top of my foot and my toes back towards me while my leg was outstretched off the edge of the bed before I even had the chance to stand on it first thing in the a.m. I also went in and got a 3D gait assessment and custom orthotics. All of these things really helped but probably the biggest thing is the constant struggle TO NOT RUN! It's so counter-intuitive to how runners are hardwired! One of the other things that really helped was making sure I spent almost NO time walking around on hard floors in bare feet. Managed to find slippers with gel cushioning and they were awesome! The one thing you've been doing that I never did was the massage therapy and I for sure am going to give that a try if I feel maybe a flare-up on its way! In the meantime, happy and continued healthy running!!

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    1. Thanks so much for your insights, Brian! You are very familiar with the struggle of this. I can tell- as your thoughts mirror my own. SO hard not to run. And it's easy to think that if a little is helpful, more will be better.
      Interesting you mention the towel. That's useful!
      I forgot to mention also that I did another stretch- almost like a V sit/sit and reach, which helped tremendously. Maybe my adductor / groin were also related to the problem.
      Happy running to you too!

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  17. I've never dealt with PF and hope I never have to, but I'm taking notes! So glad you're finally feeling better!!

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    1. Thank you Laura! Thinking of you. ♥

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  18. Oh thank goodness you are able to run some! What a blessing!
    I love that four-leaf clover. =)
    What a great run with your kidlet. =)

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    1. Thanks Keeley!! 4+ miles today :D ..
      Have you ever found a 4 leaf clover? I seem to find them in groups, then not again for a long time..
      Miss you. Hope your home school year is off to a good start!

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  19. Yay! I am so glad you are running again and feeling better!!! Your persistence will pay off. :) I laughed out loud at the "chocolate covered strawberries" because i know all too well how amazing a few short, slow miles feel after not being able to run! Yay for recovery for both of us! :)

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    1. Thanks Erin! I hope your legs/feet are responding well right now and that training is going well. Off to ready your blog :) !

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  20. Raina! I am finally getting back to blogging after a busy summer and was so happy to come to your blog and see that you are running again... I think that little time off is going to set you up for a strong 2014 :)

    I have never had PF but I think that this post will be super helpful to many. Have a wonderful day lady xx

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    1. Thanks Christie! I hope you are right about 2014. :)

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  21. Raina, Its so good to hear from you again!!!
    I had PF several years ago, long before I was running. I used a tennis ball and a bottle of frozen water. It took several months. AND I changed my shoes. I wasnt running, but even in everyday life, my shoes still affected my feet.
    So good to your able to start running again!

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    1. Thanks for the tips, Deb.. Good to hear from you. I forget sometimes that PF strikes non-runners too.

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  22. What a great story - and what an incredibly sensible and clever way of dealing with your PF! I know that, in the past, I have been WAY to quick to get back after illness and injury and like you, I've learned to really have babysteps and actually DO what my physio / practitioners tell me to do.

    How lovely that your boy ran with you - many more of those to come I hope!

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    1. Thank you Petra :) Glad to hear from you!
      laughing about the baby steps... It only took me 4 layoffs from PF to decide to tone down my return and ease into it!

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  23. Whew, glad you are on the comeback trail....isn't the internet wonderful for ideas/support other histories? Really helps debug these kind of problems in a way your family dr. would never have been able to.

    I had really bad AT whenever I tried to do too much hard running...at one point I thought "maybe I'm just not cut out for hard running". Gradually a combination of strength training and form changes, and a slight slim in my left foot has helped make it go away and not come back for years even though I'm training at even higher levels.

    Thanks for sharing your problem and your solutions...every posting helps somebody down the road 8)

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    1. Thanks Paul! It's amazing what a small piece of cardboard in your shoe can do, isn't it? Such a great and easy fix to your issue! It's fun to see what you have done with training since doing these changes.

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  24. Thanks for posting about your PF experience and what has helped you! I started having heel pain in early spring and have been using some similiar methods. Ihaven't tried massage yet, but it sounds like it needs to move to the top of the list.

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    1. Thanks for commenting! I am sorry you are dealing with the heel pain/PF. I hope the massage helps. ♥

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  25. Had a cortisone injection for my Plantar Fascitis, which hurt a bit, but a VERY quick fix. That was some years ago and had no trouble since.

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    1. I thought about it and never did it...I still wonder if it might have saved me a few months!

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  26. I am dealing with a very minor case of PF at the moment. I find that wearing a traditional trainer instead of minimalist shoes helps a lot. My husband massages my calves every few days, and that seems to help as well.
    Glad you are on your way back!

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    1. Thanks for commenting. Rebecca! I'm currently training my husband for the calf massage. :D It sure would help between appointments.

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  27. Thank you for sharing your own experience, Raina! I don't suffer from PF, but I do know what it is to be told that I may not (and temporarily unable to) run again. It's inspirational to read about someone else overcoming and working through such difficulties. Plus, not that it's good to hear about your struggles, your writing style is entertaining! Thanks again and I look forward to you inspiring me!(No pressure) :-D

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    1. Thanks so much Charles! Hope your knee is getting better.

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  28. I am glad you are running again. Interesting post. I don't suffer from PF but when I felt a "similar" pain I changed running shoes: it worked but I know that these are 2 different cases.

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  29. I just started running more mileage and I'm in grad school. Running is my only release, and I am so stressed out. Starting yesterday morning, I did a 2 mile run (normally do 3-4) and I normally walk A TON. I have high arches, but I don't have a problem and have been using the same brand of running shoes for years now. About an hour after my run, I could barely walk and the heel/lower arch of my left foot hurt so badly I started crying. I had to work and could barely walk around at work. I started googling symptoms and it sounds like plantar fasciitis. I have been looking for "success" stories, as today the symptoms haven't improved even with icing and elevation and stretching. I was hoping for a fluke pain, but it seems here to stay. I've been convincing myself that I will never run again and will lose all my hard work losing weight/exercising for the past 8 months, so this post was helpful. Thank you for posting it. I'm glad you're easing back into work and thank you for the stretch ideas! I'm hoping I can nip this in the bud now.

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  30. RAINA! this sounds EXACTLY like what I have had for the last 9 mos. pain every mornign when I get up on the outside of my high arched foot!
    I have one question...what advice were you given about shoes b/c when I CAN return to running..that is where i'm struggling.....more minimal or cushion? no one seems to knwo what to suggest..... and why?
    thanks friend! xx

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