View Full Version : plantar fasciitis and weightlifting
04-24-2011, 12:58 PM
Hi Dr. Lancaster,
I have a question about plantar fasciitis and weightlifting. I've got a bad case of plantar fasciitis in my left foot, which has been particularly painful the past week, to the point where even walking is sometimes difficult and extremely painful. I have a history with plantar fasciitis going back about two years, shortly after I took up regular exercise at the age of 40. I think the problem was originally brought on by running, but I haven't done any kind of running in quite a while. The condition first manifested itself in my right foot, but I haven't felt any serious pain in my right foot for a long time.
I was wondering what your opinion was regarding training with this condition. The pain in my left foot seems to have been exasperated by me switching from a strength based program to a oly lifting program two weeks ago, even though I was careful to keep the volume and intensity very low. Should I just cut out any fast lifts until it finally clears up? I'm hoping there's a way to work with it, because I know from the experience with my right foot that I may be looking at close to a year before it really clears up.
Also, do you have any thoughts on strength training in general with plantar fasciitis? While dealing with this in my right foot I squatted regularly and also power cleaned and it did take a long time to get better. Would I be looking at a faster recovery if I just took a break from any kind of strength training that put weight on my feet?
This topic is very interesting to me, as well.
I've struggled with PF in either foot for over a decade. When I played rugby in my 20s and 30s, once it showed up, it was there until the season was over.
I'd like to offer you any kind of solution, but as of yet I haven't found a consistent one. Mine went away for about 3-4 years but showed up after I started coaching rugby again. It seems to get to a certain point then just stay there. I went once to a doctor for it, and he said it was either a cortisone shot or a $500 orthotic insert, and I didn't want either. I know several other folks who opted for either, or both, and in most cases relief was temporary.
What's helped me (a little) is:
1. Submerging entire foot in ice water. This seems to work better than putting the foot on ice, or a bag of peas, or whatever, though it is pretty uncomfortable until you get used to it. I feel better on 2-3 x daily with this.
2. Stretching and MFR. I use a lacrosse ball or a footrubz ball on my foot. I also do a stretch that's called a "plantar stretch" that you can find online. I do this each morning when I wake up and multiple times through the day. I've recently acquired a Strassberg Sock, but as of yet it's been too distracting to sleep with. Look for trigger points in the calf to work on.
3. Foot strengthening. Picking up marbles. Scrunching up towels, etc...for me, it seems that wearing the vibram 5F shoe helps improve PF (for walking, and non-explosive training) more than the other.
One thing I've started recently is some Graston-like MFR work on the sole of my foot and the trigger point areas on my calf using a smooth plastic scoop. This left serious marks on my calf, almost like a bruise (reference the 'gua sha' oriental folk medicine for examples) but not on the sole of my foot. It's too early to tell if this is really doing anything
04-25-2011, 04:19 AM
Thanks for the contribution, Shaf. I appreciate it.
04-25-2011, 05:31 AM
Thanks for the tips, Shaf. I've been icing it and doing some mfr type stuff with a tennis ball. I think I'll try some of those foot strengthening exercises and stretching as well.
Anyone else dealt with this while lifting weights? Any thoughts as to whether I should just take a break and let it get better? I'd rather train, but if a short break means a quicker recovery I'm willing to take one.
04-25-2011, 01:12 PM
The advice below is great!! Don't forget to stretch the hamstring.
I would add a bit of advice. Not all orthotics are created equal. The reason orthotics work for some and not others is because of the varying ways that orthotics are made.
PF is the result of a fallen arch. Weight training increases the load placed on the arch and therefore aggravates the problem. Supporting the arch is a must.
The only orthotic I would recommend for PF is sole supports.
I charge patients $270.00. Find a provider in your area and go get some fitted. Do not waste your money on any other brand or store bought or any other cheaper, better, ...orthotic. We have experimented for 18 years, and just trust this is the brand you want to spend your money on.
Anyway, do the things in the post below. Stretch your hamstrings. Get sole supports. Go lift!
04-25-2011, 03:03 PM
Thanks for the advice, doc! Funny, I just noticed today my hamstrings were a little tight. I'll have to start stretching more. I'm living abroad right now and I have no idea if sole supports are available over here, but I'll take a look. Otherwise, I'll be back in the states this summer for a visit and I'll pick some up while I'm there. Are fallen arches not the same thing as flat feet? I seem to have pretty normal, if not somewhat high arches.
04-26-2011, 01:01 PM
"Fallen" is a relative term. Your arches may be high compared to others, but still could have "fallen". Fallen and flat are not the same.
It could also be a weakening of the arch that causes them to fall under a load and look normal when not loaded.
Plantar fasciitis is caused by an overstreching that occurs as the arch falls pushing the toes away from the heel. The Fascia originates at the heel and inserts at the toes. When the toes and heel move away from one another the fascia between them stretches, and over time produces an "itis".
The solution is a physics problem. You have to stop the movement of the toes away from the heel. The only way to do that is to support the arch. If the fall of the arch is limited, then so is the stretch on the fascia.
04-27-2011, 04:40 AM
Thanks for clarifying that, Dr. Diran. I'm taking your advice and getting some orthotics asap.
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