You no longer have Plantar Fasciitis. How did your recovery progress?
April 17, 2021 12:19 PM   Subscribe

YANMPT. I have plantar fasciitis and I've been doing the prescribed stretches 3x/day, wearing shoes with support, etc., for almost a week. The recurring sharp pains in my arch and heel have transitioned into more regular dull pain, and I'm wondering if this is a positive sign. If you have recovered from PF, do you remember how your pain levels changed over time? How did the sensations change in your foot/feet? And how long did it take?

I'm doing calf stretches (gastroc and soleus), heel raises, grabbing a towel with my toes - 3x/day, and foam rolling my calves 1x/day. I'm trying to wear supportive shoes pretty much all day. I'm definitely feeling pain after I walk for a bit, but it's more of a consistent dull pain, when before I was doing physical therapy I would feel zero pain and then OUCH OUCH SHOOTING PAIN. I'm trying to tell if the change in pain is a sign of success. You are not my physical therapist!
posted by rogerroger to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I went from consistent dull pain with sharp pain accents to zero pain.

However, I was recommended shoes with ZERO support, followed that advice, and have been pain-free for years now.
posted by dobbs at 12:22 PM on April 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

Mine is mild to non-existant now and I can’t point to any single thing. But I am fairly convinced that wearing a “boot” at night was a big help. I sleep on my side with the downward foot extended, which is not a good thing to do. When I start to get a flare up I use the boot and it fades back away.
posted by sjswitzer at 12:58 PM on April 17, 2021

Took me 6 months to go from crying in the morning when I put my feet on the floor with that lovely sound of tearing as tendons stretched to being able to walk with super supportive shoes or super cushiony shoes like crocs. Took me another 18 months to get to the being able to walk around Disneyworld for a week, in super supportive shoes 10+ miles a day. I still do the exercises every day to keep up the foot strength and flexibility.
posted by wwax at 1:00 PM on April 17, 2021

Oh, a further thought. You know how when you get a headache and think how great it will be when it’s gone and then later the headache is gone but you can’t really point to when it happened? Well it was like that for me. One day I just noticed it had been gone for a while and really couldn’t pinpoint it.

I will add that it seemed in retrospect to coincide with getting a new pair of shoes. There was noting particularly special about them, but they were light and comfortable.FWIW they were Cole Haan mesh-top sneakers that pass as relatively dressy.
posted by sjswitzer at 1:05 PM on April 17, 2021 [5 favorites]

Took me about 2 months from when I started being stringent with the exercises to go to mild to no pain. Dull pain was a stop on the way, but I don't remember the specific timeline.

I *do* remember happily telling a running friend that the pain had changed from the feeling of someone literally hammering a nail into my heel, to the feeling of having a stone in my shoe pushing on my heel and how pleased I was at that progress.

Years later I do the exercises a few times a week and it hasn't come back, to any sort of major degree. If I stop exercises for a week or two, I can feel the beginnings of an issue, but I can hold it at bay.
posted by gaspode at 1:34 PM on April 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

Your changes in pain are consistent with my experience of "recovery". The preceding is in quotes because it comes back once every... Few years?

I've never had anything progress as fast as a week to get to that stage, though. Congratulations!

My recommendation (to myself) is to do those stretches routinely even when things feel better. If you notice them getting harder to do, that's a big warning sign. If I ever let it get to the stage with sharp pains, I know I'm in for months of suffering.
I've been able to halt it before it gets too bad, which is way faster and less painful.
posted by Acari at 1:51 PM on April 17, 2021

My recovery took six months. AND I abstained from jogging after that, since jogging almost instantly brought it back. But walking and hiking were OK!
posted by SPrintF at 1:59 PM on April 17, 2021

One thing that helps me is wearing slippers around the house. I used to wander around with socks on the wood floor, but if I do that now, the PF flares up by the end of the day.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 2:06 PM on April 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

I tried All the Things: special shoes for both indoors and out, stretches, exercises, and a night sock. Nothing ever worked and I stopped doing most of it. The exception is that I continued to wear Oofos around the house all the time, even when getting up at night to pee. If I ever walked on my bare feet it hurt. I assumed I'd just have to do this forever.

Months later, I accidentally kicked an Oofos under the bed and couldn't immediately find it. I walked to the bathroom without and was surprised to find I wasn't in any pain. I gradually am wearing them less and less. If I don't wear them at all ever, the pain threatens to come back. But I can be in sock feet most of the day when I am home before that happens.

What's funny is that I remember years ago, telling massage clients who were runners to give it a good long rest when they developed PF or shin splints--much longer than they ever hoped for. I told them in the long run (heh) they would heal faster.

I think without consciously realizing it, I took my own advice and let my foot rest (on a ridiculously soft Oofos sole) for long enough that it healed itself.
posted by Flock of Cynthiabirds at 2:08 PM on April 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think it took about six months for me to recover, but I didn't address it until it became excruciating. Getting better wasn't a gradual thing as I remember it--it was a case of realizing it was gone one day, like sjswitzer said. I became a devotee of Superfeet insoles, and I still wear them in everything. If I spend too much time in a less supportive shoe, my feet hurt! I had it seven years ago, and it hasn't come back.
posted by pangolin party at 2:35 PM on April 17, 2021

I was a fair amount better within six months but to be in absolutely no pain took more like 1.5-2 years. I still have the occasional twinge that precedes a flare up, but a few days of stretching and massage usually cuts that right off.

I don’t remember much about the exact progression of healing, unfortunately.
posted by Stacey at 3:00 PM on April 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

I went through a course of Physical Therapy for PF and we did many of the exercises you listed. Additionally, we did strength training like using a multi hip machine, leg lifts, squats and clamshells to help build up the muscles in the rest of the leg. That is when I noticed the most lasting improvement.

I do wear insoles in my shoes and I find it helps me. I use the Sole brand. I will still occasionally get some soreness in that PF area, but it's usually nothing I can't work out by rolling my arch with a tennis ball.
posted by dorkydancer at 3:23 PM on April 17, 2021

It's been awhile since I had PF but I remember feeling an enormous and immediate relief of pain (no more sharp pains, only light dull pain) when I got the right kind of insoles. With a change of treatment I felt better pretty much within a month. I don't think I totally healed for a long time (year +), because while I was mostly pain-free, if I was careless my PF would flare up again. (I have very high arches and had a bad habit of wearing heels all day, every day, and walking long distances in them.)
posted by Stoof at 3:30 PM on April 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

I had PF on and off in my left foot for years, and in both feet for about a year. What finally chased it away (along with supportive shoes and stretches), wa a very ‘hard’ jet of hot water (I found it in a hot tub where I was working out, about 3-4 times/week for about a month or so. One day, it was gone, never to return. It’s been over 10 years.
posted by dbmcd at 4:44 PM on April 17, 2021

I don't know if your pain is indicative of improvement or not.

I had extreme pf. I gave up jogging because it was too painful. I did a good amount of physical therapy, and it was helpful, up to a point. Icing and taping were helpful. The electrical vibrator thing they put on my foot was awesome. I did all the stretching stuff.

What really helped was doing a tip toe sequence--ten toe lifts with feet side by side, then heels touching, then toes touching. I strongly recommend you give these a try when you have the time and inclination.

Some might disagree, but, for me, being shoeless was better than the "never go barefoot" advice I received from the podiatrist. I think it strengthened my entire foot. I cannot jog or run anymore, but walking is painless.

I did take a cortisone shot a few times. It is not a long term solution, but for me, the alleviation of the pain was necessary just to not be in agony.
Hope this was helpful.
posted by rhonzo at 5:31 PM on April 17, 2021

I concur with dorkydancer that the chain of muscles from your hips to your feet have a huge effect on the stability of your arch, which is where the PF problem comes from.

I have had severe issues with my arches for my entire life and have largely avoided PF because I wear arch supportive shoes all the time, I mean like even in the shower. But in the past year I've done physical therapy focusing on my hip and it's amazing what an impact it's had on my ankles and arches as well.

Specifically, I'm talking about: banded ankle rotation exercises; clamshells, lateral banded walks and similar variations targeting the glute medius; step-ups to 12" or 14" boxes; lunges; planks and side planks.

Having gone through a few rounds of PT, I can tell you that there are absolutely some fine details about this that make it worth your while to work with a therapist or coach to focus on your form. Absolutely worth it to develop an ongoing workout routine for this and *keep with it*.
posted by Sublimity at 7:54 PM on April 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

my symptoms crept up on me, but suddenly became a big deal roughly fifteen years ago.

I won't get into the specifics of what worked for me beyond physiotherapy and patience and other seemingly unrelated concerns forcing me to pursue a lot of different treatment avenues. Long story short, I can't remember the last time I even thought about my plantar fasciitis (beyond this question).

Whatever I did worked ... but it took time. A long time. The symptoms crept away just as they crept up.
posted by philip-random at 10:38 PM on April 17, 2021

It took mine several months to disappear, and I think I didn't realize it was gone until I'd forgotten to put on these things that I wore for months and noticed I had no pain. I never did PT for it, but I tried stretching, IR light therapy, various exercises, etc. and those supports turned out to be the best help for me. Sometimes I would double up on them.
I have knee issues and my knees had a bad spell towards the end of the PF, so maybe not walking the dog every morning and biking with her instead also helped?
posted by newpotato at 1:18 AM on April 18, 2021

I had s couple of cortisone injections and wore a night boot for several months. Took about a year for me to fully recover and start jogging and playing soccer again. I wore superfeet inserts in my shoes and avoided flip flops or cheap flats for years.
posted by emd3737 at 6:45 AM on April 18, 2021

I had severe PF, I got cortisone shots, did physical therapy, acupuncture. The only thing that helped me was wearing custom made inserts in my shoes and getting in better shape and losing weight. I was about 25lbs overweight. I started working out with a personal trainer who specialized in injury recovery, so we focused on weights without straining my foot. I worked on eating healthier. As I lost weight and got stronger, my PF faded. It took about a year to recover.
posted by foxonisland at 12:19 PM on April 18, 2021

Seemingly tangential, but supporting philip-random's point above that perhaps the whole leg is involved, at the height of by PF I was travelling in a country with a lot of cobblestone streets and sidewalks. You’d maybe expect cobblestones to be torture to walk on but quite the opposite! When walking on the cobblestones my feet (almost) felt fine but the pain came back as soon as hitting the even paving. I made a point after that to walk on irregular surfaces whenever possible.
posted by sjswitzer at 7:43 AM on April 19, 2021

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