Friday, September 11, 2009

plantar fasciitis

June 28th: Man, what drag having my left heel "blow up" at the Shorerun 5k after 1-1/2 miles and having to walk in, beaten by women pushing baby strollers and porky guys with their running shorts jammed into their butt cracks. It's been a long road back (figuratively and literally) in curing my nagging case of plantar fasciitis but things are looking up. Since August 23rd I have been on nine pain-free runs in increasing distances from 1-1/2 to 4 miles. Today I added a gradual hill on 39th Ave. E. that, although it kicked my butt, my left heel felt OK after 3 miles.

With no medical credentials or podiatric (is that a word) expertise or schooling but having a lifetime (forty some years) of running experience and knowing my body, I know how I acquired this bothersome, hard-to-cure injury. First, I am 62 years old and have been running since I was a junior on the Garfield High School cross country & track teams. That's a lot of miles on the old dogs. Second, during every one of those years I have had flat feet. Third, the sandals I "knock around" in at home, that have an arch, broke a strap and I replaced them with sandals that do not have an arch. Fourth, when that happens the plantar fasciitis, a sheath that runs along to bottom of your foot and is attached to the back of your toes and the front of your heel, flattens out. Fifth, that's bad because then the plantar fasciitis starts to pull at the toe and heel connections. Sixth, that's REAL bad because until that pressure is relieved from those two points all the ice, heat, massage, ibuprofen, exercises & cortisone shots in the world are not going to cure your problem. (Actually my problem.)

What I needed to do was to "knock around" in a pair of sandals that not only had an arch but also a heel strap that kept the sandal attached to my foot. A pair of sandals known as "flip flops" wasn't going to get it done, according to my foot expert Dr. Larry Huppin at the Foot & Ankle Center, because the sole drops away from the foot's arch as you walk. This doesn't give the foot continuous support like mine needed. This information was confirmed by my shoe, arch, sandal expert Larry at REI where I spent $200 on Chaco Sandals, and Superfeet arches for both my dress and running shoes.

My doctor said if these solutions didn't work then custom orthotics (arches)or a cortisone shot were the final options. Yuck! Custom orthotics seem like a "con" because every one I've ever seen looks just like the ones I see on the racks at running stores and REI (but remember I'm not a doctor or a shoe professional) and no way is anyone going to stick a needle in my foot since I had an inherent feeling that action would be just treating the symptom and not the cause of my pain.

I had been following the treatment I outlined above about three weeks before the Shorerun but apparently it wasn't long enough for it to take hold but after "shutting down" my running for two months along with the new sandals, arches, ice and massage I'm back on the road. Also one other treatment I have followed (I was desperate!) was a Futuro foot support purchased from the Pharmaca in Madison Park for about $45. (Heartily endorsed by Steve Wood.) Made of light-weight plastic with soft Velcro straps you put it on at night and as you sleep it keeps your foot locked in a 90 degree position ("therapeutic angle") allowing the tissue in your foot to heal overnight. Normally as you sleep your foot points down and then when you step on it, first thing in the morning, the tissue that has started to heal overnight pulls away. This slows the healing process and causes continuous morning pain in your heel.

After finishing my first run back on August 23rd I noticed in my "Marty Jerome" running log that his "words of wisdom" for the day were: "When returning from an injury, plan about two weeks of retraining for every week you were sidelined to reach our previous performance." Hm-m-m-m eight weeks without running times two equals 16 weeks of training to get it all back. December 23rd, looking forward to an early Christmas present and a 5k in January of 2010!

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