Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes (plantar fascia).
Plantar fasciitis commonly causes stabbing pain that usually occurs with your first steps in the morning. As you get up and move, the pain normally decreases, but it might return after long periods of standing or when you stand up after sitting.
Plantar fasciitis is more common in runners, hikers and bushwalkers. People who are overweight and those who wear shoes with inadequate support also have an increased risk of plantar fasciitis.
Your plantar fascia is in the shape of a bowstring, supporting the arch of your foot and absorbing shock when you walk. If tension and stress on this bowstring become too great, small tears can occur in the fascia. Repeated stretching and tearing can irritate or inflame the fascia, although the cause remains unclear in many cases of plantar fasciitis.
My personal experience
Last year, I created a bushwalking Group Women’s Walks Southern Highlands and I was surprised by how many women in our Group had that condition. This condition can literally stop you from walking long. I developed the condition six months after bushwalking twice a week and had to do something fast.
When I treat plantar faciliitis I look at the physiological and the mechanical part of the problem. I believe overuse of the ligament is causing inflammation and pain. I always recommend rest and taking over-the-counter painkillers as a last resort. Pain killers can only suppress the actual problem and lead to the damage or tear of the ligament. This can lead to surgery and you may never hike again.
I always carry Traumeel (homeopathic) cream and tablets in my first aid hiking kit. It helps to modulate the pain and inflammation if you are on the walk and plantar fasciitis begins to hurt and you still have like 6 km to go. I also take regularly “practitioner’s only” fish oil, herbal and nutritional supplements for restoring the ligament and to reduce inflammation. I also prescribe natural analgesics if required. However, it may take a while to resolve plantar fasciitis, as your body needs time to heal.
Other useful tips
Regular gentle stretching (especially in the morning before getting out of bed), supportive shoes (not cheap thongs) and rest sorts it for me most of the time.
Some physiotherapists think that it could be caused by tight calves. Make sure you stretch the whole leg every day, arch supports alleviated the discomfort but rest and stretches were the only cure.
I also got arch support inserts for my everyday shoes and hiking boots as well. When on a hike, I stretch my calves and make a point of stopping every hour to do a couple of calve muscle stretches. I find first thing in the morning to be the worse as it’s like walking on glass but now I hardly have any problems.
Rolling a ball about the size of a ping pong or golf ball under the sole of the foot, several times a day can help as well. You can get special balls for the purpose at sports shops.
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Danuta Hulajko is a holistic practitioner, international speaker and the founder & practitioner at the DH Natural Medicine Clinic and www.healingremedies.com.au in Sydney.
Danuta specialises in Allergies, Anti-Aging, Auto-Immune Conditions, Cardiovascular Conditions, Female Reproductive, Menopause, Mould Toxicity, Skin Conditions, Stress and Insomnia and Thyroid Dysfunction.
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