I was unpleasantly surprised to have a resurgence of plantar fasciitis recently. I’d thought that now that I don’t run in bad-for-you conventional running shoes, that I would be PF free, but not so.
Just like when I first began suffering from the PF, I can’t help but speculating as to the cause, or causes. My resurgence seemed to pop up right after the Portland Marathon, when I decided to keep running a lot, no rest, as a prep for possible ultras next year. Since my feet were raw from running the marathon barefoot, I was running in my my Luna huaraches, which I'm not exactly happy with since they're thicker now, thicker than my old pair.
Plus, here in Portland, in an effort to appear normal so women will like me, I've been wearing shoes more. They're Merrills, but I still think I walk differently in them (one pair seems to feel better than the other, but who knows).
But as much as I like speculating, I think the reality is, like most disasters, it’s a combination of many little things adding up, either from the above reasons, or stuff I’m not even aware of.
Anyways, when the ache didn't go away, I went back to what had worked for me, which I pass on to you, hoping it might help:
1. I went back (not that I really left) to running pure barefoot. I swear my feet respond to being used 'properly' and though I started with smaller runs, I increased them, and felt no pain after pure barefoot runs. In fact, I felt better.
2. I ran less, which for me meant not doing doubles for a while.
3. I started massaging my calves, which were tight as hell. A trick I picked up from Jason Robillard is to use a rolling pin, and just roll it over the muscles, finding the really tight spots. You can also buy this thing called 'The Stick' for the same effect, at 4X the price, though it's bendable. I'd recommend their stiffest version.
3. Also used hand massage, and tried to find the really painful spots, acupressure points, and just hold down on them with my thumbs.
4. Yoga. I was going to do this anyway, but I've started back to yoga, and all those balance poses are great for exercising and strengthening the foot muscles, as well as just stretching out the leg muscles in general.
5. Before I go to sleep, and before I get out of bed in the morning, stretching my feet: curling, extending, rolling them at the ankles.
6. Finally got my Xero/Invisible Shoes huaraches, which are super thin, the way my old Lunas were. Unless the routes is super rocky, these will be my default footwear, IF I must wear footwear.
But I swear, the most helpful thing was just going back to pure barefoot running. I think I got a little used to my huaraches, especially for trail runs, but now that the rains have come, the trails are nice and muddy and lovely for barefooting.
Now it’s your turn readers: Have you experienced any surprising foot problems after running barefoot? Plantar fasciitis or otherwise? Please share down in the comments, and what you did in response, and whether it has worked or not. I’m interested, and others may be too.