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plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis! Have you ever heard of this? Neither had I until 3 days into the start of my training for my Camino next April :( .... I started walking on the flat near home with my dog, feeling really well and did 30 mins the first day, 40 the next and 45 on the third day very comfortably . I did some stretching at the beginning and at the end. But, let me backtrack a bit...

I had a bad sprain a few months ago, having been knocked over by 2 dogs playing in a park, and also, for the last 9 months I have been carrying a pretty heavy pack (papers), in the city, from the train station to work and back, usually walking very quickly to get to the other end on time...and wearing my everyday work shoes... so stupid of me, I now realize!!; as well as having been on my feet, teaching, 5 hours a day during that time. So back to where I was... on the second day of walking I had a very sore heal after the walk.

I happened to have a doctor's appointment the next day (to have a good check up so that I could start my fitness program) so I asked her about my heel and guess what!? plantar fasciitis :cry: . This has really thrown me, as the doctor told me that it can take a long time to heal (12-18 months) and walking doesn't help. I can't believe it! I am so distraught!

And then I went to a podiatrist yesterday, who agreed, but said it was only the beginning of PF and who wants me to wear some awful shoes regularly. I tried some on and they were not as comfortable as he said they would be. He said my feet are like tractors (wide with high arches) which fall over easily and not like Ferraris, which do not!!! :( I want Ferraris! :(

My doctor suggested that I train by swimming or cycling instead in the meantime and worry about the walking later, but I am very distressed about this knowing how important good feet are on the Camino. Santiago has been a wonderful beam of light for me since I decided to walk the Camino Frances. Walking the Camino is the most wonderful goal to look forward to achieving, for me, after the difficult years I have had recently. In fact I finished working, last Friday, so that I could dedicate myself to this journey, to get fit, lose some weight, to quit smoking and to unburden some bitterness, a lot of sadness and to prepare myself for what I was thinking will be the third stage of my lifetime. If I can do the Camino, I can do anything.

I don't want to give it up, but I am very worried. Please help.

Clarisa (from Adelaide)

PS I am now wondering if I should just get some really good walkers' sport shoes to walk around everyday in, with good heel and arch support and lots of space in front.


Active Member
I also had plantar fasciitis (PF) long before doing the Camino (two years before heading out) - and it flared up while on the Way. Not a fun thing, by any means. Here are a couple of things that might help:

1) Put some good foot/arch supports in all of your shoes now. I bought Superfeet supports, and after awhile I noticed a significant lessening of the pain (again, this was long before the Camino). I have flat feet, so I bought the appropriate type. There are other types for high arches like yours. I still wear mine to this day.

While on the Camino I had a PF flare-up (and it also appeared in my other foot, or at least something like it). I noticed that my Superfeet supports were a bit on the hard side for extended walking, so I switched to a softer and more forgiving athletic model I bought at a Spanish sporting goods store (about 8 euros). In addition, I tried a silicone type I found at a farmacia (about 30 euros). I also augmented the supports with Maxipads, as suggested by the woman who ran the Roncal albergue in Cizur Menor (they were more for blister prevention, but they also provided padding. But they wouldn't stick to the silicone pads, so I used the athletic type the most).

If you want to go all-out, a Scottish pilgrim I met in Rabanal had expensive composite-material foot supports that were custom-made by a foot specialist. He raved about them, and you may want to go that route (he had two pairs, just in case one got lost or broken). I think I'd get some if I ever do the Camino again (I may try the Portuguese route someday).

2) Try support socks: When I had the flare-up, I bought some thin support socks at a farmacia. They were toeless, hose-like socks that gave some support to my feet. They may also help with blister prevention.

3) A standing stretch: While standing, lean towards a wall so both hands are on it like you are pushing the wall away from you. Bring the good leg forward (bend the knee), and extend the other leg with the affected foot behind you. This will allow you to stretch the bad foot (my doctor showed me this technique).

4) A sitting stretch: When you get up in the morning, sit on the side of your bed (or a chair if your bed is too high) so that both feet are resting on the floor. Pick up the affected foot and cross it over your other knee. Massage the bottom of the foot while bending your toes back, thus stretching the foot. As you know by now, it usually hurts the most when you first get up in the morning, so this stretch should help you get going. The article mentioned that the stretch can help speed up the healing time if done consistently.

5) Use pain management: While walking on the Camino, I used analgesic pain gel and ibuprofen to help with the pain. During rest breaks on the trail, I would massage my feet and stretch them in the sitting position mentioned above, and rub more pain gel into them. Here and there along the Camino, there are folks who are skilled at feet (and body) massage - take advantage of that. NOTE: Be careful with too much pain management - if you "cover up" your pain too much, you may end up hurting yourself worse - see #5 below.

6) Listen to your body: The Camino forces you to become a student of your body. Pain is your body's way of telling you something is wrong. Take the steps to correct it as much as possible: walk slower, carry less weight, take a rest day, change your socks, get better boots, choose a shorter route on the Camino when possible, etc. I did all of these things, because it's no good walking yourself into injury and misery.

Of course, these stretches, massages, etc. can be done any time during the day, or whenever you feel pain. One good thing is that the more you walk (properly), the less your foot/feet will hurt (at least when it comes to plantar fasciitis). Of course, the main pain will come in the morning when you are getting out of bed. With that in mind, you'll want to grab a bottom bunk bed at the albergues - getting down from a high bunk bed with plantar fasciitis can be painfully difficult, and may even cause you to hurt yourself more.

Anyway, I hope these tips help (check with a foot specialist for the most accurate medical advice, though). I managed to walk from St. Jean to Santiago with my funky flat feet and plantar fasciitis, so with the proper training and maintenance you can too. :)
Thank you so much vinotinto for the time you took to write your reply. I am feeling really low at the moment and it has cheered me up no end to have a kind soul at the other end of the world take the time to reply to my posting. This is why I know the Camino is the right place for me to be right now. I have printed your reply and will take in all you have said. Thank you again, Clarisa
Hi Clarisa,
Sorry to hear your devastating news.
I join you - but for me it is due to a 'break-down' at the top end.
Since March 07 I have had a jaw/tooth problem. Seems simply enough but after a endless and fruitless seven-month round of 'pass her along' among professionals I remain unable to plan a starting date for the Camino. I have spent many hundred's of $$$$$$$ seeking help from dentists, doctors, periodontists, endodontists, accuputurists, physiotherapists etc. etc.
I have spent my return airflight Sydney-Spain PLUS .... and still have no relief or solution. I have pain every time I open my mouth and eating is a task.
Cause/treatment remain a mystery and I am seem to be a case for the 'rocket scientists'.
So to those who are walking enjoy thoroughly and "Pray for me in Santiago".


Active Member
I guess the best advice I can give is to listen to your Doctors. I had Plantar Fasciitis about three years ago and it did take a few months to get fully over it but nothing like the scare tactics that your Doctors are using. Did the podiatrist say anything about custom Orthotics . My Podiatrist prescribed Orthotics and they were a great help, I just replaced my three year old original ones because I'm planing to do the Camino in April and May next year. My feet are very similar to yours according to your description. I have a hard job finding shoes and boots wide enough. For me I have good luck with New Balance walking/cross trainers and their boot brand name Dunham they have a good selection of foot wear in mens sizes which are 4E in width and these are just what I needed . I assume they have the same in lady's sizes. I buy mine on line and use http://WWW.Shopzilla.com to make sure I get the best price. Good luck and don't let it get you down you have lots of time to get in shape including you feet. :wink:


Clarisa, hi there I read your note and all I can say is listen to the excellent advice from everyone about our common ailments ( PF). I also suffered from it ( PF )for years but it is under control I do suggest a good pair of orthotics made to measure for you and you alone. I had mine made at the chiropractor who uses a computer and it alleviated a sore big toe due to arthritis and I feel great.
So friend from the forum take advice for those aches and sores and do the Camino I granted you it will do you a great of good to forget the bitterness and heavy burdens of life. This Camino will give you much support from fellow pilgrims who are kind and understanding and I hear take care of one another. Come on venture out into the deep and take the plunge. I also had some aches and pains and worry but have decided to throw caution to the wind and do the Camino. Good luck.
Peace and joy,
I am a physical therapist and help people with plantar fasciitis all of the time. I would suggest finding a good physiotherapist that is trained in custom orthotics. It is the best way for a long term fix. At the same time they will be able to help with the right kind of stretching and a custom exercise program. No two feet are the same and you would be doing yourself and your feet a favor by seeking someone to help you with your feet.
Thank you all for your advice recently. I had some great advice last year and now I am wearing my made to measure orthotics daily; rolling my feet back an forth on golf balls as I watch TV; I never stopped walking; I also stretch before I walk in the morning and on the whole I don't have the pain I had before....but my heel will hurt if I press it....I haven't been to a physio.... I guess I could do this as well....although my podiatrist, who also filmed my walk, has given me a couple of exercises which I do regularly....when are you physios walking?!
I start on the 8th or 9th of May from SJPP weather permitting.
PS I can't wait til May....it is getting very exciting ...only 82 days til I fly to Paris! ...ohhhh so much to do.....
Good to hear your PF is getting better. Several years ago I was developed PF. I tried treating myself - bad idea - eventually I could barely walk. I went to my doctor who sent me to a podiatrist. It took 3 or 4 months, several cortisone shots, custom orthotics and a regime of stretching exercises but ... I got better. My daughter and I hiked from SJPD in May - July 2006. Never had any problems. Everyone is different but my podiatrist suggested good shoes with a stiff sole; he thought that soft flexible shoes reduced impact injuries but made PF worse.

When I forget to stretch, I occasionally have a flareup but as long as I stretch and wear my orthotics I'm OK.

Buen camino
Thanks for the info John and Caitlin, I think you are right! Orthodics and stretching are important and now too for me the rolling of my bare feet on golf balls. If I can, I might even take one on the camino for self-massaging sore muscles and feet!
my reflexologist thinks I may be developing this, I'm off to see my GP this morning to get confirmation but all the signs point that way. I can pinpoint exactly when it started (second proper day of training) and I'm not feeling great about it. In th process of doing a major house move so I can't even rest it as I run up and down stairs carrying boxes! Just over 4 months until I depart for StJdPdP, what can I do that will be most beneficial? I know my GP will have ideas but he's a long distance runner not a walker!
Thanks for the advice, everyone! I developed PF towards the end of the Camino, but didn't really feel it until the days after I finished! Got back to the States, went to the doctor, she gave me anti-inflammatories, taught me the stretches and told me to keep doing small walks and wearing orthotics. I have a follow-up with her in two days, and we'll see where to go from there.

I am so frustrated, because I was so used to being so active, both before and during the Camino, and now I just feel stuck, walking around my block a few times. I'm grumpy from that and the pain :( But I am willing to try almost anything, so any advice is welcome (rolling feet on golf balls... I will have to try that!)


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VDLP 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014

I'm not sure where you live, but try low-level laser, or "cold" laser therapy. I had PF for 9 months and tried everything under the sun: orthotics, the boot at night, taping, stretches, reflexology, even cortisone shots, and nothing helped. Then I heard about cold laser treatments from my chiropractor. They've been used for 30-40 years in Europe, but have only been FDA-approved in the U.S. since 2002, so they're much less known/available. Anyway, after 1 treatment I could use the elliptical again, and after 2 I was running again. I think I only needed 5 total. Here's a story I wrote about it for Runner's World magazine:


To see if there's a provider in your area, you can try this locator:

It doesn't list my chiro, though. Lots of chiropractors do it - probably moreso than physicians, so you can also call your health plan for assistance.

Good luck! It's a horrible thing to get rid of.

@ Melanie McManus. Thank you so much for posting your experience with Cold Laser Therapy. This was the first time My husband Max and I had ever heard of any "different" type of treatment for Plantar Faciitis. He had a raging case of it and has been very concerned about losing time getting ready for doing the Camino this fall. We found a provider who was herself a runner and within three weeks has gotten him back on the road. I would recommend that anyone who is suffering from this to at least look into it. I've had it twice before, and I would not hesitate to use it should I have the misfortune of developing it again in the future. :D


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VDLP 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014
Glad it worked for you, MaxfromMO. I've tried it on various other ailments over the years where there's inflammation. It either works in a few visits or it doesn't, so that's another good thing -- you don't waste a lot of time or money trying it. But gosh, when it works it's a miracle.

Camino(s) past & future
I am in the midst of my training for an August 23rd start in Saint Jean and this demon has reared its ugly head. The various suggestions in this thread have been very useful, I will add one more. Eucalyptus Oil is a wonderful thing to run into your feet....it is very soothing and reduces swelling. Given that I am doing a lot of things I can for sure how much it is helping, but I can say it is helping for sure. 3-4 times a day and be sure one of them as at bedtime.


Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
I've had such severe plantar fasciitis I almost had to be carried into the podiatrist. Orthotics are a must for me. I do have specially made ones but the semi rigid standard blue ones found in most stores also work. I'm not a fan of the really hard orthotics. I'm in love with my podiatrist. When you find a good one chain her/him to your wrist!
Camino(s) past & future
Have a good chiropractor work the plantar manually ( it hurts like hell but its worth it) then follow up with cold laser therapy....this along with orthotics has been my focus this week and it is helping....


New Member
Camino(s) past & future
As a marathon runner I developed PF several years ago, both feet. The heel spurs caused excruciating pain. I was professionally fitted for custom made orthotics which not only allowed me to continue running, they cured my PF.

STRETCHING: While at rest, whether it's sitting at your desk, on the sofa watching tv, or sleeping, the tendons / muscles in your foot arch contract and shorten - this is normal. It is IMPERATIVE that every single time you stand up to put pressure on your feet after being at rest, even getting up from bed to pee in the middle of the night, you roll your arches on an average size can of veggies - this stretches your tendons which is necessary, otherwise you'll pull on the heel spur if you don't stretch first. It's also significant to roll your arch while sitting on a frozen water bottle - ICE WORKS! I'd also take Ibuprofen is your system can handle it, as an anti-flammatory.

In closing, it's entirely possible to work through PF with properly fitted custom orthotics and proper stretching.

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