A couple of weeks ago, we had an especially beautiful evening and I decided to go for a run on the greenway. The pinched nerve in my shoulder seems to finally be healed, the weather is getting warm and nice, and I am ready to get back out there after the long gray winter. The stretch of greenway that I chose is extra scenic, and extra hilly, so it provides a great workout. I had a lovely run, the best in quite a while.
When I woke up the next morning, however, I noticed that my right heel was a little sore. I figured that I had come down on a rock during my run and just not noticed it. The next day, though, it was even more sore, so I skipped my planned run. By the weekend, I was noticeably limping.
I started icing my heel and foot, and that seemed to help some. I also took some anti-inflammatories. Within a few days, it felt a bit better, so I thought I would try a short run, taking it easy. On Tuesday night, I went for a short two-mile run. When I came back, I stretched carefully, iced my foot a little, and then had dinner.
When I got up from dinner, however, my foot was much worse! I could barely walk on it. I iced it some more, and took some more NSAIDs, and headed off to bed, hoping rest would help. I began to wonder if yet another injury was going to force yet another running layoff!
In the middle of the night, I awoke to go to the bathroom. When I tried to stand up, my foot and ankle were totally inflexible, locked up – I couldn’t bend my ankle to flatten my foot without excruciating pain! I couldn’t put any weight on my foot at all. I had to hop on one foot to the bathroom, holding onto the wall.
The next morning, I stretched my foot carefully before I got out of bed. It still hurt very badly, but within a few minutes of getting up, I was at least able to get around and get ready for work. I knew at that point what was wrong – I had the dreaded plantar fasciitis.
I spent most of the day at work with my foot on a bag of ice. I took some more NSAIDs, and some Tylenol. I started researching online at-home plantar fasciitis treatments, whether I could still run, etc. I had plantar fasciitis once several years ago. However, that variety was in the arch of my foot, and while it was very painful, I was still able to get around. This variety was in my heel, and hurt so bad that I could barely put weight on it. It was much worse than the last time.
I finally decided on a regiment of icing and careful stretching. Then, I ran across a WebMD article that discussed the use of night splints (among other things) for treating plantar fasciitis. With a little further research (Googling), I found a site that discussed the science behind night splints, and provided reviews of the best ones.
So here is how night splints help with plantar fasciites – during the night, most people sleep with their toes slightly pointed. This allows the fascia along the bottom of the foot to come to rest in a contracted, or shortened, position. When the fascia are already injured, it then becomes very painful to stretch them again, such as when you would flatten your foot in the morning (or the middle of the night!) to stand and walk. By keeping the fascia slightly stretched at night, they are not allowed to freeze-up in the shortened position, and thereby allow more flexibility, and less pain, in the morning.
It sounded reasonable and I figured that it was at least worth a try. The article listed several brands and models, but the one that caught my eye was the Futuro Night Plantar Fasciitis Sleep Support. Futuro products are available at most drug stores and are relatively inexpensive. So I hit my local CVS on the way home, where I was delighted to find the splints in stock.
I then headed to the greenway for a run. Yes, I am crazy – if you know any runners, you will know that most runners have to be immobile or bleeding from a head wound before they will skip a run. I am the person that fell during a run and snapped my pinkie finger off at the hand and got it jammed between the bones of my hand, yet I still finished my run before going to the emergency room. So hilly greenway run on a sore foot that I have had ice on all day? Heck, yeah, sign me up!
My foot was a bit sore at first, but I took frequent walk breaks and enjoyed the sites. I saw confederate violets (see photo above) along the path. And a baby cow in the pasture! See him in the middle?
And kayakers on the Stones River at sunset.
Towards the end of the run, the pain in my foot went away completely. This is one of the classic symptoms of plantar fasciitis – the injury will be sore at the beginning of a run but then stop hurting once it warms up.
After my run, I stretched and immediately put the splint on my foot. When I got home, I showered, and then iced my foot while I had dinner. I watched a little TV, read some, and went to bed with the splint on my foot. It was very lightweight, and I barely noticed it during the night. Since the rigid part lies on top of the foot and ankle, it didn’t dig in or press down on my foot. The straps didn’t cut off my circulation or itch. The splint coverage is minimal, so my foot didn’t even get hot.
When I woke up this morning, I sat up, removed the splint, and tentatively stretched my foot. It felt pretty good. So I got up. It felt amazing! The pain, which had just one day before completely immobilized my foot, was now almost completely gone! It was still a little sore on my heel, feeling a bit like a bruise, but other than that – pain free!
Today I didn’t need to ice my foot or take any NSAIDs. I didn’t go running today. My foot is a tiny bit sore right now, at the end of day, but I will be heading off to bed soon, and I will take a dose of NSAIDs and put my foot in the Futuro Night Splint again.
I can’t say enough good things about the Futuro Night Plantar Fasciitis Sleep Support. Use of a night splint looks like it will speed my foot to recovery much faster than ice, NSAIDs, and stretching alone. If you or anyone you know suffers from plantar fasciitis, I highly recommend a night splint. I am not a doctor or a medical professional, but you won’t regret giving this product a try. The Futuro one that I use is available at most pharmacies, and of course from Amazon.