Playing with Plantar Fasciitis – One Woman’s Journey

March 3, 2020

By Marcia Knous, GAMMA Brand Partner

I started playing Pickleball in 2016 when I moved to the Jacksonville area. In the early days, I was playing nearly every day. In the summer of 2018, I started developing heel pain and overall foot pain. I finally sought advice from a podiatrist in December, but I wasn’t officially diagnosed with plantar fasciitis during that visit. In early 2019 with pain worsening, I visited another podiatrist who made the diagnosis. It is my hope to share my journey since then, especially since I still have plantar and have tried many things to make it better. Perhaps some of you suffering from foot pain will take some wisdom what I have found in my now several year journey suffering from plantar fasciitis.

Doctors

I have seen both podiatrists and ortho doctors, and I must say to date there hasn’t been much difference between the two in my case in terms of what they recommended or how they have been able to help. Both took extensive X-rays of both the ankle and foot area. One of the two did recommend physical therapy.  When I asked about MRIs, I was told in the case of plantar they usually don’t take them unless they suspect something more going on, such as a torn plantar fascia.

Physical Therapy

PT was not recommended for me initially, but I was already seeing a PT for tennis elbow so I got some recommended stretches from her. I would highly recommend PT, since there are a myriad of things they can try to make your situation better. Having someone else stretch your calves and feet might in itself be better. Some PTs might be able to use lasers, EPAT, Graston or other modalities to reduce the inflammation in the area. It can’t hurt to have an evaluation and try some sessions out – you may be happy you did! In my case, a later evaluation noted that I had pretty significant weakness in my hips, which I am working on in personal training and which should help my plantar fasciitis situation as well.

Stretches/Rolling the Foot

I stretch daily, using both Therabands and a Pilates band. I have a frozen roller that I use (make sure not to do it back and forth, only one direction). You can easily freeze water bottles and use them to roll out your foot. Lots of online articles have reiterated the importance of daily stretching and rolling. Some people also have reported success using toe stretchers such as Bodhi Feet.

Icing

I have been icing faithfully when it flares up. Two effective ways I have found to ice is to either freeze a cup and apply the ice that way, or simple add ice to a bucket and soak your feet in the bucket. Both of these methods seem to be more effective for me then using an ice wrap or ice pack.

Night Splints/Strassburg Sock

I tried a Night Splint which was prescribed by my podiatrist and wore it faithfully. The downside of the splint is it can be bulky to sleep with, but eventually you get used to having it on. The Strassburg sock is an alternative that some people feel may work better for them.  I also tried a foot compression band – there are a myriad of options available and you can either get one from your doctor’s office or on Amazon.

Orthotics and Heel Cups

During my vast online research, I have come across a number of people who have had great results with orthotics. Apparently you don’t necessarily have to use custom orthotics – many people have reported relief using over the counter orthotics. My PT recommended a semi rigid orthotic.

Shoes

One of my initial evaluations highlighted the fact that my footwear might be one of my main issues. The ortho doctor I saw provided a list of stiff sole shoes to try. Basically I was told if the shoes are not rigid, do not not wear them. In terms of court footwear, I have also experimented with different footwear to see if I was able to find a pair that improved things. I did notice recently that the combination of new footwear plus a gel heel cup helped me get through a recent round robin tournament. But court sports are pretty rough on your feet, especially for players such as myself that have a very aggressive style of play.

 

Finally, here are some other things I haven’t tried, but various people have either recommended to me in person or online:

  • Cortisone shot
  • Sports Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Normatec
  • Stem Cell Therapy
  • The Stretch Zone

I think the interesting takeaway for me about plantar fasciitis is that there is not a one size fits all remedy. Our bodies are all different, and some people naturally respond to different treatments or modalities better than others. So if you are suffering from this issue, keep experimenting until you find something that works well for you!