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Top Exercises to Help Avoid Plantar Fasciitis

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#1
I've read a number of posts which refer to Plantars Fasciitis (PF). A number of us have had suffered with it, ranging from being mild to severe; from effects which are mildly annoying to completely disabling. Because a cause for PF can be long days of walking, especially when under load, I wanted to share the article below which I have long been incorporating into my conditioning regimen as a backpacker. There are no guarantees, but the exercises have been shown to be highly effective.

Plantar fasciitis affects a large number of backpackers, walkers and runners. It is a common type of chronic heel pain. It seems to affect young male athletes and middle-aged obese women more than any other group, but that does not mean other groups are immune to it. The inflamed tissue around the heel seems to cause a stabbing-like sensation, which is worse in the morning. This condition may be prevented, and the following exercises will help you do that.

Arch Stretching
Stretching your arch muscles is not too difficult, but the exercise is a little peculiar. The first thing you need to do is take off your shoes and get barefoot, and then place a towel on the floor. Now, simply place your foot on the towel, and curl your toes to clench the towel. Pull the towel toward you, and that is it. Place the towel in front of you again, and repeat. Be sure to do the same for your other foot.

This exercise is typically suggested by professionals for those who actually have plantar fasciitis already, but it can definitely be helpful to everyone. You should try and do this several times a week, but make sure to not overstretch your feet while you’re doing it.

Calf Strengthening
The calf and the tendons surrounding your heel need to be strengthened. A simple exercise that may help you do this is calf rises. What you want to do is stand straight on level ground. You should be barefooted for best traction, but it is not absolutely necessary. Now, all you have to do is lift your heels off the ground so that you are standing on your toes. Stay in this position as long as you can before returning your heels to the ground, and just repeat this at least nine more times.

Another way to do this exercise that works great, is to stand at the edge of a stair or curb. You want your toes to be what keeps you on the stair or curb. Then, raise your heels up so that you are on your “tippy toes” and then back down again, but allow your heels to go lower than your toes past the edge of the stair or curb. This exercise allows for a fuller stretch.

Alleviate Pronation
Pronation is a natural part of your foot’s movement. This refers to how the foot rolls and applies pressure when the heel finally hits the ground. Pronation may be normal, but that does not mean the constant shock it receives when you walk or run does not have an effect on it. One way you can alleviate the pressure is to try doming. To do this, just place your foot flat on the ground, and then press your toes on the ground while keeping your heels firmly on the floor. This should create a dome between your heel and toes. Maintain this position for 10 seconds, straighten your foot, and then just start again.

Work the Interossei
The Interossei muscles help support your arch muscles thus preventing this issue. All you have to do is place a large rubber band around your toes for resistance. Then, stretch your toes and hold for 10 seconds. Squeeze your toes for another 10 seconds, and repeat these steps about five to 10 times.

What to Do When Your Feet Are Hurting?
Whether or not you’re at risk of getting Plantar Fasciitis, you’re going to come across a time where you’re feet are going to hurt. Maybe you were standing all day at work, hiked 15 miles, or whatever. If your feet are hurting, take a break and rest, stretch, and recover.

Get off your feet for a little bit and either ice or heat your feet. If you notice any swelling or severe pain, then ice it. If it’s just sore, then apply heat with a hot bath. Then, make sure to rub out the tension and to do some basic exercises. You can try the ones above or do some other types. One popular one is to roll a tennis ball underneath the feet. This helps to preserve the arch and massage it at the same time.

I hope that some might find the above helpful. :)
 

martin1ws

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Somport to Finisterre Jul-Aug 2018
#2
Thanks.
I have not had problems like this but I have been looking for something like your exercises for prevention.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#6
Just a cautionary note if you are in the acute stages. I am an enthusiastic self-help person, and I adopted all of the stretching exercises when struck down with PF on the Vdlp. Nothing helped. Now, two months later, and home where it has been properly diagnosed with ultrasound, it turns out I have a 7 to 10cm tear in the fascia. I may have inadvertently made things worse with all the stretching. Who knows? Anyway, a cortisone injection seems to have worked miracles and after a week or so for it to heal properly I'll be back to doing the exercises in preparation for another, walking camino....
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#7
Just a cautionary note if you are in the acute stages. I am an enthusiastic self-help person, and I adopted all of the stretching exercises when struck down with PF on the Vdlp. Nothing helped. Now, two months later, and home where it has been properly diagnosed with ultrasound, it turns out I have a 7 to 10cm tear in the fascia. I may have inadvertently made things worse with all the stretching. Who knows? Anyway, a cortisone injection seems to have worked miracles and after a week or so for it to heal properly I'll be back to doing the exercises in preparation for another, walking camino....
Absolutely correct!!! Should 'mild' symptoms occur and 'mild' stretching becomes uncomfortable or further aggravates the situation, STOP.... do not do these unless evaluated by the appropriate medical specialist.

Folks should note that these are stretches and exercises to help in the PREVENTION of PF as part of pre-trip conditioning. These are not a recommendation for PF, once PF has occurred.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - Sarria to Santiago (June 2017)
#8
I feel the pain in the actual underneath inner arch, not the heel. I used the black kinesiology tape and wrapped it around my arch on both feet and wore that through the entire Camino and it truly helped. They sold the tape at all the Farmacia/Pharmacy along the Camino so I was able to reapply as needed. I also ended up putting it on one back heel and one knee. Not sure exactly how or why the tape works but it helped me.
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#9
I feel the pain in the actual underneath inner arch, not the heel. I used the black kinesiology tape and wrapped it around my arch on both feet and wore that through the entire Camino and it truly helped. They sold the tape at all the Farmacia/Pharmacy along the Camino so I was able to reapply as needed. I also ended up putting it on one back heel and one knee. Not sure exactly how or why the tape works but it helped me.
Katherine, was the tape similar to the KT brand tape that appears in the YouTube clip below?

 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - Sarria to Santiago (June 2017)
#10
Hi there. This is what I brought with me. KT PRO. They are precut and more sports geared in their advertising. I purchased them at Target. They have a similar brand at Big 5 Sporting Goods. I ended up buying one more container in Melide and one in Santiago. They were not precut like the KT brand but otherwise all seem essentially the same. KT a bit higher end and a few bucks more expensive and the precut did seem to stick longer than scissor cut where the edges peeled some. They last 3 to 4 days. KT a few days more. 5? But have to say it really made a difference for me.

https://www.target.com/p/kt-tape-or...gclid=CKDIp6z5-NQCFYSTfgodAzkCzw&gclsrc=aw.ds
 

alaskadiver

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017-Camino Primitivo
2019- Invierno
#11
Stretching exercises like those mentioned were prescribed to me by my podiatrist when I returned. They, along with a cortisone shot in each heel, Celebrex, and 3% Diclofenac gel have made a huge improvement for me. And of course new custom orthotics.
The medical advice given to me for my next hike is to stretch each morning, after any prolonged stop, and at night.
It's a common injury in long distance hikers and runners of all ages. I'm not obese and it happened to me. Poor choice of shoes. I needed boots with a stiffer midsole and lateral support.

The condition is Hell when it hits. After 20 years it caught me totally off guard because I ignored mild heel pain during training.

Good luck to all suffering from this :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017 Camino Frances
#12
Hi I also made use of kinesio tape to help me deal with PF in the lead up to, and during my Camino. I definitely think it helped, even though there is apparently little medical evidence to support it's effectiveness. I started with athletic strapping tape, which was what my Podiatrist recommended, but found that it restricted the flexibility of my feet too much to be comfortable. Kinesio tape I found offered support whist not excessively restricting the natural movement of my foot.

Calf stretches were important. But most important for me was rolling on a ball. I found the ball I liked best was a massage ball made of tightly wrapped material ( a fabric a bit like bandaging). I found a tennis ball too soft and a lacrosse ball a little too firm. When I was training, which was when it was most acute, I would stop and roll my feet for maybe 5 minutes every 5kms or so and for about 10 minutes when I finished. (plus about four times a day). Massage definitely helped, including self massage aimed at getting flexibility all though my foot.


By the time I started my Camino in St Jean it was pretty much under control, though I maintained the regime of rolling in the morning, when I arrived at an albergue, and last thing at night.

If you are careful you can make the Kinesio tape stay on for a week.
 

DoubleD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sept/Oct 2017
#13
I've suffered from PF for the past few months in my left foot. I had received treatment for a couple of months, and have done prescribed stretches etc. It helped a ton...but it still bothers me from time to time. One of my sons plays lacrosse, so we have lots of lacrosse balls around. I use one of those on a daily basis - I just can't put all my weight on it....as mentioned above, lacrosse balls are definitely firm. As I'm writing this....I might actually take one with me on my trip - I'll wait to see if I can afford the grams. :eek:)

I'm going on my first camino in September, and I'm a bit worried how my foot will handle it. I'm doing everything I can to help my feet be in good shape.

I'm excited also....I had custom orthotics done up, and I pick them up tomorrow! Then I'm looking to get new footwear (my current boots, which I'm happy with, will be more than I need for this trip). I'll have about 2 months to break them in.
 
#14
I had severe plantar fasciitis off and on for decades, starting at age 17. Tried all the standard recommendations: cortisone injections, custom orthotics, stick soled "supportive" shoes, anti-inflammatory medication (Diclofenac, Iboprofen, etc.), night splint, even casts! Nothing really worked. About 5 years ago, around age 50, finally found a solution in using minimalist shoes (like New Balance Minimus). Minimalist shoes go against most doctors' advice; they make their living from giving out prescriptions and doing surgery. But in my experience they worked like a charm. They take some gradual adjustment -- about 6-10 months -- of increasing wear to get your feet, legs and back to adjust to but, in my case at least, they seem to somehow make the foot structure work better. During the adjustment period, doing regular calf massage and myofascial release (using a lacrosse ball or something like The Stick https://www.thestick.com/) helped a lot, too. I'm still planning my first Camino (for 2019) and I'm not sure if I'll wear the New Balance Minimus shoes during that because the soles are so thin that they wear out quickly and don't protect from very cold or hot ground or sharp stones, but for everyday prevention, it worked miracles for me. If anyone has experience, good or bad, hiking the Camino in minimalist shoes, please share.
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017 Camino Frances
#15
I'm still planning my first Camino (for 2019) and I'm not sure if I'll wear the New Balance Minimus shoes during that because the soles are so thin that they wear out quickly and don't protect from very cold or hot ground or sharp stones, but for everyday prevention, it worked miracles for me.If anyone has experience, good or bad, hiking the Camino in minimalist shoes, please share.
How great that you've found a solution after so much discomfort. A recent hike here in Australia over much more rough terrain than I encountered on the Camino reinforced for me just how easy underfoot much of the path is in Spain. So I would say you could probably wear your minimalist shoes up to 80% of the time with no issues. There are some rocky stretches though and how they would cope with that I'm not so sure. But definitely it won't be an either/or. In my opinion you can definitely use them most of the time. Just from the point of view of alternatives can I say that I also struggled with plantar fasciitis and got through using Hokkas which share some features of minimalist shoes - mainly that they don't raise your heel above the forefoot.

Good luck!
 
Camino(s) past & future
None
#16
I've read a number of posts which refer to Plantars Fasciitis (PF). A number of us have had suffered with it, ranging from being mild to severe; from effects which are mildly annoying to completely disabling. Because a cause for PF can be long days of walking, especially when under load, I wanted to share the article below which I have long been incorporating into my conditioning regimen as a backpacker. There are no guarantees, but the exercises have been shown to be highly effective.

Plantar fasciitis affects a large number of backpackers, walkers and runners. It is a common type of chronic heel pain. It seems to affect young male athletes and middle-aged obese women more than any other group, but that does not mean other groups are immune to it. The inflamed tissue around the heel seems to cause a stabbing-like sensation, which is worse in the morning. This condition may be prevented, and the following exercises will help you do that.

Arch Stretching
Stretching your arch muscles is not too difficult, but the exercise is a little peculiar. The first thing you need to do is take off your shoes and get barefoot, and then place a towel on the floor. Now, simply place your foot on the towel, and curl your toes to clench the towel. Pull the towel toward you, and that is it. Place the towel in front of you again, and repeat. Be sure to do the same for your other foot.

This exercise is typically suggested by professionals for those who actually have plantar fasciitis already, but it can definitely be helpful to everyone. You should try and do this several times a week, but make sure to not overstretch your feet while you’re doing it.

Calf Strengthening
The calf and the tendons surrounding your heel need to be strengthened. A simple exercise that may help you do this is calf rises. What you want to do is stand straight on level ground. You should be barefooted for best traction, but it is not absolutely necessary. Now, all you have to do is lift your heels off the ground so that you are standing on your toes. Stay in this position as long as you can before returning your heels to the ground, and just repeat this at least nine more times.

Another way to do this exercise that works great, is to stand at the edge of a stair or curb. You want your toes to be what keeps you on the stair or curb. Then, raise your heels up so that you are on your “tippy toes” and then back down again, but allow your heels to go lower than your toes past the edge of the stair or curb. This exercise allows for a fuller stretch.

Alleviate Pronation
Pronation is a natural part of your foot’s movement. This refers to how the foot rolls and applies pressure when the heel finally hits the ground. Pronation may be normal, but that does not mean the constant shock it receives when you walk or run does not have an effect on it. One way you can alleviate the pressure is to try doming. To do this, just place your foot flat on the ground, and then press your toes on the ground while keeping your heels firmly on the floor. This should create a dome between your heel and toes. Maintain this position for 10 seconds, straighten your foot, and then just start again.

Work the Interossei
The Interossei muscles help support your arch muscles thus preventing this issue. All you have to do is place a large rubber band around your toes for resistance. Then, stretch your toes and hold for 10 seconds. Squeeze your toes for another 10 seconds, and repeat these steps about five to 10 times.

What to Do When Your Feet Are Hurting?
Whether or not you’re at risk of getting Plantar Fasciitis, you’re going to come across a time where you’re feet are going to hurt. Maybe you were standing all day at work, hiked 15 miles, or whatever. If your feet are hurting, take a break and rest, stretch, and recover.

Get off your feet for a little bit and either ice or heat your feet. If you notice any swelling or severe pain, then ice it. If it’s just sore, then apply heat with a hot bath. Then, make sure to rub out the tension and to do some basic exercises. You can try the ones above or do some other types. One popular one is to roll a tennis ball underneath the feet. This helps to preserve the arch and massage it at the same time.

I hope that some might find the above helpful. :)
Thank you for taking the time to share these exercises.
 

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