Shoes As Tools, Even Weapons, Against Plantar Fasciitis

FitOldDog's shoes and socks

Just a couple of pairs of shoes, right? Nope! Carefully selected tools, including the Smart Wool Socks, tested for certain terrains and functions.

Finishing 2014 Eagleman pissed

I thought ITBS and left foot soreness was bad enough, ruining my 2013 Eagleman Half Ironman Race, but little did I know that worse was to come – full blown plantar fasciitis, AGAIN!!!

Why does is this guy keep on talking about plantar fasciitis all the time? Is he obsessed? Yep! So would you be if you had it, and you claim to know how to fix it. This article is about the power of shoes as tools to fight this condition.

It’s a long story, starting with a bike wreck in 2013 (enough said about that), leading to a series of problems, with a post-script of full-blown plantar fasciitis. I had a truly subpar 2014 race season, all due to an unnoticed, subluxated pelvis; it had been like that for over a year, little did I know, as I thought another aortic surgery was enough. Fortunately, due to the recommendation of my friend and masseuse, Tara, I had my hips straightened about several months ago, only to develop left ITBS and serious foot pain a couple of weeks later at the Maryland Ironman, to give me a DNF (can’t really run with that kind of pain). That was followed by what seemed like an endless plantar fasciitis battle, which appears to be finally fading into the past – though I’m sure it will always be lurking in the background, ready to strike, if I’m not vigilant, and this vigilance includes shoe selection.

Shoes turn out to be important, when it comes to certain cases of plantar fasciitis. My second dose of heel and foot pain, triggered by re-installing arch supports in my running shoes, led to our research program on this diseaseyep, disease. Hell, I should know, I’m a veterinary pathologist by training, with 40 years experience under my belt.

Flexor hallicus longus

Flexor hallicus longus tendonitis could easily be mis-diagnosed as so-called plantar fasciitis. Click image for link to source article.

If you don’t believe me, just read some people’s stories on Facebook. There are loads of them! Did you know that there are estimated to be 2,000,000 cases of plantar fasciitis in the USA at any one time!

We started researching this issue. There are so many treatments out there that it is clear that no-one understands the underlying cause of this condition. It is apparently not inflammatory in nature, in the early stages at least, and does not always involve the plantar fascia, either, so it needs a better name for a start, or should I say that they need better names – there is no way so-called plantar fasciitis is one condition – for instance, tightness of the Flexor hallicus longus muscle can induce similar foot pain, being a tendonitis rather than fasciitis, making misdiagnosis an easy thing.

FitOldDog's plantar fasciitis data with focus on shoes.

Graph of data from our first 100 case reports (comments on Facebook), to show that 7% benefitted from shoes – the insert exceeds 7, because the graph included only THE major contributor, even if shoes helped. Thanks for the data folks; more coming in.

We are busily collecting data, for our research program (sign up for our newsletter at this link). A graph, from the first 100 data points (people’s brief clinical histories in Facebook comments – see pinned article at this link), is presented to your right. Notice the percentage of people who benefitted from shoes, 7%, and the insert, which includes more than 7 examples (the graph included only those cases where shoes were THE major contributor to the cure). All different shoe types, each one having helped considerably.

Fixing plantar fasciitis is still very much a process of trial and error. Furthermore, what do you do when you’ve fixed it, and you don’t want it to come back again?

You work with it, including with your shoes. The picture at the top of this page shows my key weapons, shoe-wise. Brooks Glycerine for running, with plenty of support, and my old Nike Frees for walking around to continue to strengthen my arches. You don’t want supportive shoes to become a crutch, so work with it.

I also find that Smart Wool socks help to protect my feet, but not in the rain. Each one can hold about a pound of water, making running marathons wet weather a challenge, to say the least.

Wishing you happy feet, as Rebecca and I work to help you find the best ways out of the plantar fasciitis treatment maze.

Plantar Fasciitis Maze Map small file

Click image for link to interactive map.


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.