A Plantar Fasciitis Story

Legs of Race for Life runnersDebbie is a busy mum, she loves her life, married to Dave for 10 years who does ‘something in finance,’ they have 2 children at school. Debbie helps her best friend Laura, a hairdresser in the village, working part-time as a receptionist.

Debbie loves cooking fresh food for her family, her favourite TV programme is The Great British Bake Off, every week she tries her hand at the technical challenge and every year she puts on a few pounds. Then Christmas is just around the corner, she always uses her Granny’s Christmas cake recipe and her Mother’s rum truffles, making sure everyone has their favourite food in. Of course they can never eat it all. More inches on the waistline!

Debbie has a plan though to shed the extra pounds, she has heard about Couch to 5K, if she does that she could enter The Race for life, Granny died of cancer a few years ago and a lady came in the shop the other day to have her head shaved before starting chemotherapy.

She has a plan, get up early, go for a run, then home, shower get the kids up, breakfast, school then work. She can do this. There’s an old pair of trainers somewhere, it doesn’t matter what they looked like no one’s going to see her at 6am.

The first week went well, but it seemed to easy, so she thought that instead of walking and running she’d just run for 20 minutes. By the end of week 2 she noticed her heels were a bit sore when she got out of bed in the morning. It soon wore off so she didn’t take much notice. By the end of week 3 the pain was in terrible every the morning but determined to stick to her plan she soldiered on until she noticed that every time she got up from her desk at work her heels hurt, and she would get cross with the children if they asked for something when she was sat down because she knew it was going to hurt when she stood up.

Debbie was frustrated, she realised that the training probably had something to do with it but she really wanted to do this. It meant a lot to her, people had already started sponsoring her and she didn’t want to let them down. She wanted to get fit, regain her BBC (body before children) and raising money for a good cause was a real bonus.

So Debbie did what any modern woman would do and googled heel pain, Dr Google came up with plantar fasciitis which she had never heard of. The advice was to rest, ice the area for 20 minutes and stretch her calf muscles.

A few days later she noticed her heels were not so painful in the mornings so she got up early and went for a run, starting where she’d left off on her mission to run 5K. She’d been able to get back into her size 12 jeans but they were starting to feel tight again. Can’t let all that hard work go to waste.

By the end of the week her heels were agony in the mornings, and if she had to get up in the night it was just as bad. Her friend noticed she was hobbling and suggested she asked one of the clients who was a podiatrist for advice, she was coming in for a cut and colour the following week.

Well that was a turning point, the lady listened to her and agreed that it sounded like plantar fasciitis, and showed her how to do the stretching exercises to the best effect, she also showed her an exercise to strengthen to muscles on the bottom of her feet. She told her off for wearing dolly shoes to work and advised some shoes with a thicker sole, a small heel and a fastening. She also gave Debbie her card, advised her to make an appointment to have an examination so that a diagnosis can be made to make sure that she is having the right treatment. Apparently there are loads of different causes of heel pain. Debbie needed to bring along her trainers, gosh she didn’t think anyone was going to see them!

The day of the appointment came Debbie was quite nervous, but the podiatrist was lovely and immediately put her at ease. She listened to Debbie as she told her how it all started, what made it better and what made it worse, the podiatrist seemed to know exactly where the pain was and put her finger on it straight away. She explained that the plantar fascia is a band of tissue on the sole of the foot which acts in the same way as a tendon, if it gets overloaded it starts to complain. The podiatrist asked her to rate her pain on a scale of 0 – 10, with 10 being the worst pain she could imagine, Debbie thought that it had been an 8 but was already improving with the change of footwear and the exercises, so was now a 6. She looked at Debbie’s foot type, tested muscle tightness and strength, even lifted her leg up to see if that caused the pain! Then she looked at the awful trainers, Debbie was so embarrassed, but the podiatrist said the wear patterns on her trainers were really interesting. She also examined the way Debbie walked and ran on the treadmill.

A heel fix kit

Debbie went away with a heel fix kit made up of some temporary insoles which will help reduce the pain in her feet whilst she does the exercises to stretch and strengthen her leg and foot muscles, some sports tape which when Debbie first stepped on the floor after the podiatrist had applied it felt ‘amazing’. There was enough in the kit to reapply daily for a couple of weeks, there was also small therapy ball with a list of exercises. She was to go away for a couple of weeks and do the stretches and exercises, wear shoes with a small cushioning heel. She was allowed to exercise but had to walk and reduce her stride length, she could also cycle or swim to keep fit. She also needed to shop for some new trainers, the podiatrist gave her some ideas of brands that would suit her feet.

The podiatrist wanted to see her again in 2 weeks to check her progress, there were some special socks she could have if the pain was still bothering her and she would be seen again another month later. The podiatrist said that if she was doing everything right for 6 weeks and still not improving then she should be referred for an MRI scan to see if there was any bruising on the bone. Debbie was determined to get better and she was going to do exactly as she had been advised and get better. She didn’t like the idea of some of the other treatments, the shock wave sounded a bit unpleasant but the steroid injection sounded worse.

Debbie was diligent about doing her stretches and exercises and 2 weeks later went back to see the podiatrist, her pain score was barely 2 first thing in the morning and had gone completely before getting out of the door. She had started running again, but this time following exactly the regime set down in Couch to 5K.

Debbie did her first 5k run for the Race for Life in the spring and also signed up to do the Sleep Walk for her local hospice. She always kept in mind the advice her podiatrist had given her, keeping her pretty shoes for special occasions and wearing something sturdier for everyday. Her feet thanked her every morning.

For further information on how we can help you with your heel pain call us at Torbay Footcare on 01803 521880.

Group of women walking by the harbour

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