Sunday, April 17, 2005

Plantar Fasciitis, Make the Pain Go Away

Anne writes,
"I enjoyed reading your information about yoga. I found it very helpful. I have a question. Several women I know who are in their early fifties are suffering from plantar faciitis. What suggestions or poses will help this?"
This is a great question. I get it all the time.

I think of the plantar fascia as the bow string that runs along the sole of the foot that helps maintain the nice arch in your foot.

plantar fascia Posted by Hello

When it gets inflammed and irritated, watch out. It's painful--right in front of the heel--and usually slow to heal. Once your start limping, the effects on the rest of your body start to add up quickly.

What should you do? Here are my suggestions:

1) Stop doing whatever caused it in the first place. I see this frequently in people who've recently gained weight or started doing something like a new job or exercise program in which their feet take a pounding. For instance, here in Jefferson City, many of my students work in the Capitol building. It has hard marble floors. During General Assembly session people are on their feet more and plantar fasciitis kicks in.

If you've gained weight, get busy and drop some pounds, soon. If you've started jogging or doing impact aerobics, stop. If you must work on a hard surface, make sure you have some serious arch support in your shoes and shock absorbing soles.

2) Get the inflammation down. I suggest taking fish oil capsules. Make sure they've been tested for heavy metals and other pollutants. And you'll need to take what seems to be a lot of two capsules at each meal. It's really good for your heart health, by the way.

3) Until the pain goes away completely, NEVER go barefoot. This is especially important at home. Your feet start to feel good. Then, when you get up in the middle of the night to walk to the bathroom you re-injure your foot. This repeats itself over and over again. Instead, keep a pair of Birkenstock sandals or other slip-ons with excellent arch supports near your bed. Put your feet in shoes or sandals before you stand up. The only exception to this is yoga class. Take your shoes off for yoga class and yoga practice.

4) Stretch your lower leg and foot EVERY TIME before you get out of bed. Here's what happens: while you're lying in bed, the calves, achilles tendon, and connective tissue on the sole of the foot "shrink." They get shorter. When you stand up, you re-aggravate your plantar fascia. So, before you get out of bed, EVERY TIME, straighten your legs (take the bends out of your knees) and use the muscles on the fronts of your shins to pull your toes back towards your shins. Extend your heels away. Do this several times before your put your feet on the floor. Do it every time. It's called dorsiflexion of the ankle.

dorsiflexion, toes up Posted by Hello

5) Twice a day, sit on your heels for a few minutes in thunderbolt pose, to rebuild the shape of your arches.

vajrasana, thunderbolt pose Posted by Hello

It works better if you can have your heels close together, rather than apart, as pictured.

Reclining hero pose is even better for your arches, if you can do it (supta virasana).

supta virasana, reclined hero pose Posted by Hello

One caution: do not tolerate ANY knee pain in these two poses. If you have knee pain while you're doing these pose, STOP. It doesn't do you any good to heal your plantar fasciitis and ruin your knees. Get help from an experienced teacher. But do not sit in these poses if you have knee pain. Never.

6) At least twice a day stretch your calves, achilles tendons, and soles of the feet. I recommend what some people call Japanese seated position. (This takes some real getting used to.)

sitting on flexed feet Posted by Hello

And one-leg dog poses.

one-leg dog pose, eka pada adho mukha svanasana Posted by Hello

And warrior 1 poses, too.

virabhadrasana 1, warrior 1 pose Posted by Hello

I've found that I'm better off, once I'm completely back to normal, going barefoot a lot and wearing shoes with hardly any support. This seems like a contradiction, since above I told you not to do it. But once you're over the injury, this strengthens your feet.

I'd love to hear from you. Let me know how it goes. Or, if I can give your more detail on these suggestions, shoot me an email at or post a comment below..

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry

p.s., This the contents of this message and everything on this web page do not constitute medical advice. This material is not given for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment. For diagnosis or treatment, you should consult a licensed medical professional.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.
Kevin Perry
Mo Yoga LLC
1305 Elmerine Ave
Jefferson City, MO 65101

(573) 680-6737


Blogger sya said...

I was diagnose with plantar f. last year. The doctor wanted to give me the steroid injection which I declined. I do not know what happen but I just realised that I did not feel any pain everytime I wake up in the morning. After I read your blog then I knew the reason, I did the dorsiflexsion each morning. I also sit on thunderbolt position quite often. I started doing small movement of yoga since last March by using the Yogazone CD and it did help. Now I don't to feel the pain each time I wake up in the morning or standing after sitting for some time.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

I suffer plantar fasciitis that comes and goes. I've found that during yoga, my feet sometimes burn and I have to give them a break during balance poses, but afterwards they feel excellently well. I am not doing anything for the p.f. other than yoga at the moment, and it seems to be working out. Thanks for the tips!

1:12 PM  
Anonymous mchabinsky said...

I had plantar f also, and received the recommendation from my rolfer not to wear any shoe with no back on it. The reason is that the toes have to hold on to keep the shoe on and therefore the plantar tendon cannot stretch throught he natural movement of your gate. Great advice as this was the best help in healing my feet!

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a request for further excellent information. The tear in my foot is in the metatarsal area, not the heel area - therefore are there any other specific exercises? Holding poses with pressure on the ball of the foot is painful. I will try what you have suggested and appreciate a body/self healing approach.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Regina said...

I have had pf twice. Both times it lasted about a year. I do yoga and I play tennis (which is the culprit, I suspect). Custom orthodics helped me a lot since I have really high arches. Recently I started taking fish oil capsules (~4000 mg a day) and could tell a difference immediately. My stool is a tiny bit loose from time to time (small price to pay for the relief) and I have had one really fishy burp - other than that, no problems. I wonder how long I should continue to take such a high dose though - if there are any long term side effects?

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Danielle said...

HI Kevin,
Thanks for the info...I took a yoga class a fews days ago and my plantar fasciitis is burning. I hadn't taken a class in three wekks due to a sinus infection, so I'm hoping that's why I was so is my only salvation for other issues and if it's irritating my PF I'm just going to have to SCREAM!!! would you suggest the night slpint?

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin I have been going to yoga for two hours once a week for 5 years. now recently I get a pain in my foot the ball of my foot as soon as I walk any distant in flat shoes trainers or any shoe for that matter it feels like I am walking on marbles. sounds strange but it is terrible. can you help??

1:28 PM  
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Blogger TheSitRep said...

I am on a mission to tell people how to fix there PF.
I suffered for years after a massive calf trauma. I was hobbled. With pain. I tried everything, aspirin, stretching, orthotics, different shoes etc. Then one day I learn about A.R.T. (Active release technique) you don't need to spend a dime on a doctor. You can do this yourself. You will feel relief after the first time. All this is is massaging your calf and Achilles tendon Hard while flexing your foot up and down. Do this evry morning and BAM! You will be amazed. Everybody including myself tends to focus on the plantar fascia but the culprit is the tendons and muscle in the calf area.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Wandering Sage said...

Two great ways to really care for your feet.

1. Soak your feet in hot/warm water each night before you go to bed. The heat will bring considerable relief to your feet and prepare them for #2.

2. Massage your feet after soaking them. Taking time daily to massage your feet is a practice that reintegrates your feet back into the whole of your body. Too often we neglect the parts of our body that hurt. Massaging the area encourages blood flow to the area and stimulates the body's natural healing ability.

9:37 PM  
Blogger palani said...

I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.

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7:19 PM  
Anonymous Yasmin said...

I have been walking to try and burn the weight I gained during pregnancy and this along with my daily yoga practise seemed to be making a dent until, I started getting heel pain. One of my friends told me it was PF and the symptoms fit really well (though I think I have a bit of heel bursitis too). I'm glad that you have a few poses that can help with PF as I've been miserable without my yoga, which I thought may have been the culprit.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a runner and a nurse. I am on my feet all the time and have been hobbled with PF for the past 8 months. I find the night splint helps a great deal. I rub Traumeel cream into my foot, ankle and calf before putting it on. I then do stretching and massage when I wake up before getting out of bed. I am turning to yoga but have found any pose that puts lateral pressure on the foot ie: the back foot in warrior hurts and causes discomfort long after I've finished the practice. Am I doing the pose wrong perhaps?

5:57 PM  
Blogger nidhi said...

i m 26 and i had PF. I learnt about yoga i implemented it. Its working. thanks for posting.

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Anonymous Karl said...

Yoga can aggravate PF. I recommend making sure it's healed first before resuming yoga.

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Anonymous Footeez said...

Lots of good tips here for alleviating the pain of plantar fasciitis! Here's another one: it sounds simple, but lifting bedcovers up off your feet at night reduces heel pain, especially first thing in the morning. You'll be amazed how much better your feet feel when they have room to move at night. The FOOTEEZ sleep aid raises covers at the foot of the bed for more comfortable sleep and happier feet!

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Anonymous Plantar Fasciitis said...

I used to have planter fasciitis but not anymore!

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Anonymous alejandro merrell said...

Yoga is the key! This is somehow related to addressing the PF phenomenon with self-discipline. Get rid of the usual doings which you think leads you to having PF and live with proper stature. This one's indeed a good read! Keep it up!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had plantar fasciitis for 6 months and a partial tear of 9mm for some if not all of that time. After 6 weeks with an orthopedic boot my foot is almost better but still slighty painful (but not the agony of a fascial tear of course) if I dont wear the boot. Sick of not exercising I did some yoga with friends last week (Im a beginner) and found that I could not only do it with out much irritation of the pf but the next day my foot felt better. Have continued every day since. Today a week later I havent worn the orthopedic boot at all and I dont have pain!After 6 months with constant pain , it feels like a miracle! It seems like the exercises both help the foot directly and also the other parts of the body by helping my muscles to hold me up. And I have toned up considerably in that short time too! good luck to plantar fasciitis sufferers ! truly a miracle cure. you can mail me on if you want any support or advice (have had fallen transverse arches for nearly 5 years and they seem to better too!)

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Anonymous Mike @TheIronYou said...

Great post. I just plantar fasciitis from my last triathlon race (I probably pushed too hard too soon) two weeks ago and I still struggle to recover properly.
I'll try those yoga postures and take it easy next week. Let's hope for the best!
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Blogger Doctora B said...

Is it possible that the way i was doing down dog CAUSED my p.f.? A couple of weeks ago when I was doing this position, I felt a sharp pain in both heals. Now whenever I flex my feet in the same way I get the same pain - almost like something is torn. When I stand, walk or do other yoga positions it does not hurt.

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Anonymous Plantar Fasciitis Alexandria said...

All the tips are useful but I have a question regarding your 1st tip "Stop Doing whatever caused it" for instance I need to walk daily in my office does it mean I have to stop walking even when I have to it because it is a part of my job? Don't you feel there should be something else to cure it and to deal with this issue? Because at any cost I have to it as I get paid for it.

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That is good information. I have had some foot pain for a little while now. I am thinking about seeing a foot doctor in Portland, OR. I haven't decided yet though.

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Blogger Nosilla said...

Thank you for the fish oil suggestion. I had no idea fish oil reduced inflimation. I've been taking between four and six capsules a day and I had a significinant reduction in pain within two days.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have suffered for more than two years. I have tried everything from Physical Therapy, boot at night, custom orthosis, wrapping with tape, acupuncture, ibuprofen-lots, cortisone shots x3, stretching, massage, even a chiropractor. I am now going to turn inward, follow your advice, although not wanting to take the fish oil, and try those yoga poses. I will get back to you if I am successful in becoming self-disciplined enough to get rid of this terrible pain once and for all. Thanks for your great posts.

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Blogger Sara Welsh said...

Over the last few days, my friend has been having a lot of foot pain, and I think it might be plantar fascia. Her schedule has changed a lot, and you've said that a change in someone routine, could potential cause plantar fascia. Unfortunately, her routine isn't something that she can change because she has a tight work schedule, so I was wondering what she could do, other than stretching. Do you have anything you'd suggest?

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