This post is a reworked repeat of one I did some years ago. I’ve met several people who are suffering with PF. I can totally relate, so I’m reposting in the hope that it may help someone.
I beat plantar fasciitis by taking the following supplements daily:
500 mg magnesium (recommended to take before bed…seems to cause drowsiness in some people and is sometimes used as a sleep aid)
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) I couldn’t find it on it’s own, so I take a Stress-B Complex that contains it, recommended daily dosage. Note: Not all B-Complexes contain Pantothenic Acid. Read the labels.
Fish Oil 1000 iu per day
Vitamin C recommended daily dosage for absorption of the Vitamin B (I get this in a daily multi vitamin)
Also recommended: eat an anti inflammatory diet. (Google is your friend here.) I didn’t do that, but the source where I found the supplement info recommended it.
Don’t you hate it when you are looking for information online and you click on a site where you think you’ve found it and you have to dig around the page and read a bunch of stuff that doesn’t interest you before you find what you are looking for? I do. I don’t care about the details…I just want the info. So the bold type above ^^^ is what you’re after. Below, if you are interested, you can read my story. No hard feelings if you don’t. I get it.
So…my plantar fasciitis began one February as achy feet, one foot actually. It gradually got worse and worse until I couldn’t even walk on it. It was literally debilitating, so I went to the doctor, who diagnosed PF but he wanted me to see a podiatrist and because of my insurance I had to go through a series of referrals and whatnot pain-in-the-neck waiting periods to be seen but finally I got in and he had my feet x-rayed to rule out a stress fracture and or bone spurs.
Bone spurs, by the way, don’t normally cause pain. Interesting, but irrelevant at the moment!
The x-ray revealed that I had an issue with pronation and he recommended Birko-Balance inserts to correct this. A product made by Birkenstock, they aren’t cheap but they can be used in any supportive closed shoe and they helped ease the pain. You can test the supportiveness of the shoe by holding the toe in one hand and the heel in the other. Give it a little twist. If the shoe twists a lot forget it. If it’s fairly firm then it’s reasonably supportive. I started wearing the inserts all the time and I also invested in a pair of supportive dressy sandals made by Vionic to wear with skirts to church. (I really didn’t want to wear my hiking boots or my Nikes adorned with my inserts with dresses! Not quite the fashion statement I was going for.) The issue here is arch support. Providing firm and strong arch support is the important thing because, especially with a pronation, the arches can fall, have fallen or are falling. I slipped my shoes on immediately upon waking in the morning, before I put any weight on my feet. The mornings are the worst because the plantar fascia shrinks overnight; this is normal, but walking on it first thing is absolutely excruciating until it loosens up a bit. The inserts relieve some of the pressure and provide needed support. I don’t know how bad yours is, but mine was bad. Very bad. Anyway!!! All this to say the inserts were a God-send, but they didn’t solve the problem. Just made it more bearable.
So. I saw a physiotherapist who gave me some exercises. By this time I’d been literally limping around for about five months. It had reached a point that I didn’t even want to walk from room to room in the house because the pain was so bad when I rose from sitting and didn’t abate much as I walked. Also, the muscles in my legs, feet, and ankles had actually begun to atrophy. I was quickly on my way to a wheelchair. I’m not exaggerating. The physio had me doing hip flexor stretches (a runners stretch) because I was stiffening up from the hips down. I also did calf raises one leg at time and stretches for the arches of my feet by placing the ball of my foot on a step and extending the heel down. I also used plenty of ice packs and froze a water bottle to roll under my foot. There are zillions of exercises online that can be helpful and you should do them. Pick up marbles with your toes, scrunch a towel with your toes…you’ll find all kinds of stuff out there. In my case they helped the symptoms slightly, but nothing seemed to actually be bringing any lasting improvement and healing. I even took six weeks leave from work (retail…on my feet all day) to stay off my feet, stopped walking around as much as possible which was a problem during outreaches but I didn’t want to just take this thing lying down! Basically I tried during those six weeks to stay off my feet as much as possible to allow the tissue to heal without stopping my life altogether.
The physio also showed me how to deep massage the area. Basically apply gradually increasing pressure with your thumbs up and down the arch of your foot and from the back of the heel forward. You want to use lotion and really really really get in there. Also massage deeply down the length of your shin just to the side of the bone. And the back of your calves also. She said that if you cause bruising that’s ok! It needs to be super deep massage and it hurts, but it helps. I couldn’t reach properly to get the right angle to deep massage my calves but I did my arches, heels, and shins and I think that was more helpful than any of the exercise, though it probably all works together. During the massage sessions I could feel little bubble like uneven places in the muscle that were especially painful. I tended to concentrate on those area and try to massage them out.
There are options for taping the foot or wearing a night splint but I didn’t explore those because I didn’t think they would really do anything helpful. At least for me.
Nothing was particularly helpful to bring healing except the massage but I did’t think that was sufficient alone, until…
(I feel like I’m doing an infomercial!)
…I started digging deep online to find some answers and came across a sports therapist who had dealt with plantar fasciitis himself. He recommended a cocktail of supplements that I took, and still take, religiously because they’re just good for me in general, and the improvement was remarkable.
From the time I first noticed the pain to the time I discovered the supplements was about two or three years. I do NOT want to go back to that kind of pain, so I am taking the supplements listed above daily. I very occasionally experience I little bit of an ache if I’m on my feet a lot but I’m fully back into my whole life, including lots of walking when we travel…and I do mean lots! I continue to take my supplements because they are just good in general.
The guy also recommended an anti inflammatory diet, which I didn’t do. There is far too much cheesecake in this world to allow me to do that. Ha! Though if necessary, I would have!
Regarding the supplements, I noticed a difference within days. Probably less than a week. It was like I woke up one morning and the pain was gone. It was incredible and I felt like I had a new lease on life. I don’t know if you’ve ever had chronic pain, but it wears you down mentally and emotionally as well as physically. You start to the become depressed and despondent and think that it will never end. I think it’s spiritual, and designed to wear you down like that, so you need to fight fight fight! Get up in the morning and pray. Go about your day as if nothing was wrong. Figure out ways to do what you need to do and work around it. Don’t let it take over.
So that’s it! Simple. Not really earth shaking, though it shook my world pretty significantly and literally gave me my life back! I would love to provide a link to this information but I can’t find it again. It’s literally disappeared. And it wasn’t in my browsing history. Weird. Maybe it was an angelic visitation. I’m not even kidding. It wouldn’t be the first time that someone had a visitation from Heaven that changed their life!
This next little bit has to be said because there are crazies out there, unfortunately. I am not a doctor, a nutritionist, a therapist, or anyone associated with the medical field in any way. I’m sharing my own experience. That’s all. If you want to try this and it works for you, fantastic! But if something goes wrong, it’s on you!
Photo cred: Me! Those are my feet at Harbor View Park with the San Mateo Bridge in the background. After my recovery, back in my Vibrams, which is my preferred footwear for jogging.
Edit Spring 2019: I’m kind of over my Five Fingers and I’m looking for some more substantial running shoes. They are fine for a mile or two on easy ground, but I just don’t feel like my feet are protected for anything else. I’ll probably head to somewhere that I can have a gait analysis and all that jazz and buy a ridiculously overpriced pair of running shoes with great arch support….and I have a feeling they will be worth every penny.
Edit January 2023: I just reread this and corrected a couple of typos (though I’m sure there are more), and every word is as relevant today as it was when I wrote this. I still take my supplements, though not as religiously. Sometimes a couple of weeks go by and I realize I haven’t taken them. My foot aches a little tiny bit occasionally, but only after a couple of weeks without supps. As soon as I take them the ache disappears. ….perhaps I should be tested for vitamin deficiencies…?