For the past few months, I’ve been experiencing real pain in my feet, a change from the pain in the neck I usually get from some of my students! The bottoms of my feet howl whenever I put my weight, which admittedly is too much, on them after sitting for a few minutes. Once I get moving, the foot pain goes away, my feet quit their screaming, and I forget all about the feeling I had standing up.
At home, I make jokes about getting old and exaggerate my walking – like Tim Conway’s Old Man character, rather than admit to the foot pain. A humorous cover is easier to deal with than the truth.
At school, I cover up my foot pain by pretending my feet have fallen asleep and have that tingling sensation in them, but that only works so often. My second ruse is to blame the foot pain on my shoes. But I know both of these excuses for my unseemly walking can not last forever.
In a conversation with a friend, I mentioned that my feet were killing me, but not from overuse, like a waitress would feel. I told her that when I sit for awhile, getting up is painful, not the pins and needles of cutting off the circulation, but more of an overall sensation, like the bottoms of my feet were completely bruised. She said, “Oh, that sounds like plantar fasciitis.” She had surgery on her feet to rectify her problem, an option I’m not willing to entertain.
That evening, of course, I looked it up. WebMD says plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, the muscle that runs along the bottom of your foot from the heel to the toes. Makes sense, since I know “-itis” means inflamed. As for the causes, being overweight is one of them. That makes sense, too. My poor little feet are carrying around about 40 pounds more than they should be.
So, combining the advice from my friend, the advice I read about on WebMD and in a couple of articles here on Associated Content by Jillita Horton and A.C. O’Brien, I decided what to do to alleviate the my own foot pain:
First, I’m eating more sensibly. I even passed up dessert on Christmas Day! One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to lose five pounds a month – very doable, and by summer, I’ll be down almost to where I should be. I’m also cutting out extra salt, as I do tend to retain water when I overdo the salt, and the swelling doesn’t help the pain in my feet at all.
Second, I massage lotion into my feet every night before bed, and every morning, either before I get out of bed or after my shower, depending on my day’s planned activities. The side effect of this is that I also now have the smoothest feet I’ve ever owned, which my husband really appreciates!
Part of the massage is rubbing in the lotion of course, working the tops and bottoms of my feet with my fingers. The other part is using a golf ball – I roll it around on the floor with my foot pushing down on it as firmly as I can. I make sure I use all parts of my foot, not just the middle. Others recommend tennis balls, but I find the size and rigidness of the golf ball adds to the massage, and seems to relieve the foot pain more quickly. You can do this while you’re watching TV, too.
Third, I stretch the muscles of my foot as often as I can. The more you do this, the more automatic it becomes, and you’ll find yourself stretching while waiting in line at the grocery store. First, I stand on my tiptoes and hold it for a few seconds. Then I put my feet flat and bend my knees, transferring my weight to the front of my foot. You can lift your heel slightly if it helps, but I like to keep my foot totally on the floor.
You can also accomplish the same stretch by placing the ball of your foot on the edge of a step and raising up on your toes, then lowering down so that your heel is below the step. But be careful doing it this way – you can overstretch and hurt your calf, and you can lose your balance. If I do this stretch on the stairs, I always hold on to the banister, and I always use the lowest step.
Another way to stretch is to sit on the floor with your feet out straight in front of you. If you can reach your toes, great. Pull back on the top of your foot – you’ll feel the stretch in your foot and probably in your calf. If you’re like me and can’t reach your toes, use a towel. Hold both ends, and throw the middle of the towel over your toes, and pull back gently with the towel.
In my research, I found that soaking your feet in hot water will help alleviate the pain. This is one remedy I don’t do. For me, heat exacerbates the pain. I’d rather stand on the cold tile floor in my bathroom – it really feels good. On cold days when I’m watching TV or sitting with the family, I also like to keep my feet out of any blanket I may throw over myself, or remove my socks. Keeping my feet cool lessens the swelling, and therefore lessens any foot pain when I stand up. But try the heat remedy for yourself to see how it works for you.
Like everything else that involves your health, you should see your physician if the pain persists. They can recommend orthotics for your shoes that can also help and pain killers if the pain in your feet is that unbearable.
Getting rid of foot pain feet is wonderful! I still have occasions when I cringe when I stand, but that is much less frequent now. Which means I’m more likely to stand and do something active. Which means I’ll be in shape that much sooner. Which means I won’t have to worry about plantar fasciitis so much.
And that’s the end of a cycle I look forward to!
Horton, Jillita. “Exercises for Heel Pain as a Result of Plantar Fasciitis” Associated Content. 30 Sep 2008. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1050540/exercises_for_heel_pain_as_a_result.html?page=2&cat=70 .
O’Brien, A.C. “Self Massage: Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis” Associated Content. 24 Sep 2008. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1043266/self_massage_treatment_for_plantar.html?cat=2 .
“Understanding Plantar Fasciitis – the Basics.” WebMD. http://arthritis.webmd.com/understanding-plantar-fasciitis-basics