So, I’ve recently had several discussion regarding my experiences with Plantar Fasciitis both in comments on my blog, and with several people in person. This made me realize it might be worth taking the time to really take a look and explain what I have done, and why! I’ll start with the background.
It all started with my switching over to Vibram Five Fingers. I didn’t know at the time that it could contribute, or why. Looking back, I suspect that a big part of it is the old “too much too soon” problem combined with my complete lack of flexibility. I don’t know that moving into the five fingers slower would have prevented this – but had I been stretching my calves/Achilles/hamstrings – the additional time would have helped. But I might be getting ahead of myself.
I read “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall a while back – and like many readers – I felt the call of the wild to go run “barefoot.” I started out by doing my normal run and taking off my shoes with a couple of blocks to go. It felt neat, but it had one key problem. I was barefoot. For the record, I hate being barefoot. I stub my toes, step on pointing things, and generally hurt myself. This of course, lead me to buying a pair of Vibram Five Fingers Bikilas. I got them for Christmas in 2010, and it was love at first wearing. Besides annoying my wife, they gave me all the wonderful comfy aspects of being barefoot that my wife talks about, with all the protection I needed from stubbing my toes and stepping on sharp pointy things. Now one standard of most Vibram Five Finger stories like this, is of pain and finding out what “too much too soon” really means. I succeeded in pulling my calf. Then I pulled the other one in a workout that let me realize I didn’t know how to run down hill in them. Then I pulled it a 3rd time(What can I say, I’m a slow learner.) Then I set them aside, went back to conventional shoes – and gave myself such a bad set of shin splints that I had to have a bone scan done to make sure it wasn’t a stress fracture! (This was the injury that lead me to missing my first Marine Corps Marathon in 2011.)
Gradually, my shin-splints healed and I was able to start running again. I picked up my Vibram Five Finger Bikila’s (a brand new RED pair! WOOT!) and tried to really listen to my body as I went. (Looking back, I suppose my feet were somewhat sore here – but I can’t say as I was really paying all that much attention so I can’t be positive. At this point in time I had never heard of the “Plantar Fascia.”) I still loved the free-feeling of the minimalist running, as well as the protection from things like glass (regardless of what barefoot running sites tell you – there is plenty of glass out there!), sharp little pebbles, twigs and especially acorns! It added a whole new level of feeling to running! I continued going, getting PRs in the 15k and adding on some great mileage. Around this same-time, one of my co-workers started running, and we began to occasionally meet up.
One weekend we headed out to Chenango Valley State Park, a great park up near Binghamton, NY. For some reason I wore my older, more worn out Bikilas for this run. We headed up various trails – with no real distance in mind (or path for that matter.) As can happen with trail running, we hit a point where the trail just ended. Now, Derek thought we should go back the way we came, while I favored heading off through the woods to another trail. Being one heck of a leader, Derek followed me. We were having a ball, really enjoying the woods, the trails and not being out on the street! Well at some point in that run I slammed my poor little, minimalist shoe covered, foot into a super pointy and big rock. It hurt. Of course I finished my run after this. 🙂
The next day the bottom of my foot HURT. I figured I had bruised something and had to take a couple of days off. Well, since the title of this post is “the Plantar Fasciitis Trials” – obviously, it wasn’t just a bruised foot.
This post is getting fairly long, so I will pick it up with what happened after at another point!