Plantar Fasciitis And Me

This photograph of me was taken in 2016, on an unsupported, 8 day trip in Arctic Sweden. It has something about it that I really like.

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But the woman in that photo no longer exists. Since January of this year, plantar fasciitis in my left foot, has steadily erased both my fitness and confidence.

Sure, I can still manage easy day walks and short backpacking trips and I do know that things could be a lot worse,  but nevertheless I currently feel my Outdoor Future and all its associated dreams, has gone. I can see no end to this.

Sports Physios don’t come cheap either. And my faith in mine has gone. I religiously do the exercises – nothing changes. I’m encouraged to keep on with anything I want to do, after all walking is physio in itself, but still nothing changes. I’ve even tried doing very little for a few weeks – nothing changes.

I discuss the Challenge with my physio. He’s definitely of the opinion I should still go for it.

‘It’s only pain,’ he says ‘it’s bound to ache, but your fascia isn’t suddenly going to fly off your foot or anything.  Do it, have fun!’

And so I travel on up to Oban. I have a high pain threshold anyway, I’m stubborn, have the ability to generally put on a smiley face through stuff and  armed with plenty of ibuprofen I’ll be fine.

But after the first couple of hours on the first day, the pain was excruciating. Somehow, I manage to walk 18 miles to the first night’s stop, but I suspect this is largely due to the company of my good friend Rich Flint who, coming upon me in the early afternoon and realising how much pain I was in, changed his plans so that he could walk with me and keep me company for the rest of the day. He’s a star.

Well, maybe I could have gone on, maybe I could have even completed it, but in the middle of that first night I had to admit to myself that that amount of pain every day for 14 days, was just too much for me to put up with.

I’m gutted and not sure where to go from now. I’ve lost all vision of my future in the outdoors.

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62 thoughts on “Plantar Fasciitis And Me

  1. I feel your pain. Well not exactly but I’ve had a few foot issues which appeared and mainly disappeared. Unfortunately we are annoyingly dependent on the things on the end of our legs. If you don’t already use footbeds I can recommend them, I use custom Superfeet and they’ve definitely made a difference.
    Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My feet have flattened over the years, so I now have Superfeet in all footwear, even work shoes. I take the insoles with me when trying new boots, they can be a different volume to the original.
        Originally I just bought the cheaper standard ones which weren’t right. Apparently my heel was several sizes bigger now. This is what walking can do to you 🙂
        Best use a decent shop where they check your feet properly.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your experience mirrors mine in so many ways – only just learned the pain of PF in the past few weeks and it is so demoralising!! I see a summer of planned walks ahead of me and they are all clouded by the pain I’m expecting to endure. I’ve been trying Sorbothane Double Strikes in place of my Superfeet but they haven’t helped, they are also thicker than the Superfeet so cause problems with my toes rubbing. I’m at my wits end with it and only been suffering for a few weeks – I hope you can find some happy zone where walking is bearable!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sorry to hear, having had PF myself I know your pain and frustration. Exercise and insoles, YouTube searches lasted about 2 years went as suddenly as it came. You will beat it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. So sorry to hear such bad news Chrissie, I know you must be gutted! Most certainly Ii know were you are coming from. With me it is my Parkinson’s. On the Dales trip i really struggled. Tests have shown that I hit a very low drop off point in the mornings and it takes until late morning before my meds kick in. Chrissie, if it helps, I am happy to travel down to the Peak District if you want to try a short trip or two with the object would be just getting out, having a short walk and camp somewhere. If i can help in any way please let me know.
    Tomorrow, with some trepidation, I am going to try a few days walking..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds awful Brenda. But, even setting off late morning on walks, I’ve never had any trouble timewise getting what I want done – I just have to walk later into the evening (my problem is that I’m not a day person so can’t get up early and function). That’s probably why I find self-catering a boon nowadays as I can get back when I like and still get my tea (evening meal if you’re not a northerner)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Absolutely gutted for you and I can empathise having had the dreaded PF myself (its very common, affecting 1 in 5 people at some point so I’m told). I have pretty high pain threshold but on occasions I’ve been close to tears with the pain and frustration. Like you I was at a point where I thought every hike was just going to be an exercise in how much pain I could put up with.

    However either by luck or judgement I got rid of it so there is hope. For me, the exercises and the like made no difference. What did it for me (unless it went on its own which is common) were the splints I used. I had a boot shaped plastic splint I used to wear in bed at home and a sock version I used when I was camping. After a few months use I tightened it to the point where it was a little uncomfortable at night but I could still sleep. Within two weeks the PF had completely gone and never came back. Feel free to PM me and I can point you at the website where I purchased mine. Stay positive and fingers crossed you can beat it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I thought I’d broken a bone in my foot when it first came on. There were numerous days when I’m not sure how on earth I made back down from the hills. Its such a common complaint and so painful and debilitating and yet there seems to be almost nothing that can be done. It’s just do frustrating.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I was in Australia when it first flared up. It went from mild discomfort to excruciating over about 10 minutes. I will remember the first walk uphill to the villa afterwards for the rest of my life. I thought my trip of a lifetime was ruined. I borrowed a pair of crutches from the hotel and hobbled around for a couple of days and with a huge slice of luck it eased and it was manageable for the rest of the trip. It flared again a couple of months later and was with me for the next 18 months. Luckily my knee was equally painful at the time!

            Liked by 1 person

  6. So very, very sad this has happened to you. Can’t be much worse for a woman who loves the outdoors Nd walking as you do. I too suffered from PF, and as others said…I woke up one day and it was gone. I didn’t do anything special for it—no special exercises—just kept going on with me life (which didn’t include the kind of walking you do) . Keep the faith—

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I had no idea you had something like that bothering you – I don’t recall you mentioning it before. You do well to do what you already do with your camps in the Peak and so on.

    I’ve had to keep lowering my sights and really hate it – it does also make you feel like you no longer have a purpose. I also read back on my blog and see where I was only a year or so ago and feel so much frustration that I’m no longer there. I’ve tried to remember how to be a tourist and think up indoor hobbies I used to do but none of it appeals. I keep setting out on a nice, flat walk and peering up at the hills above and thinking “if I could just go up there again”.

    I hope it soon clears – I can only repeat what everyone else has said and ask if you’ve tried orthotics?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve kept it very quiet, Carol, not many people have known about it these past few months. I was trying not to give it head space, to be honest!
      I feel for you too and hope you get sorted soon.

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  8. This is not fair! Plantar fasciitis is awful but it can be solved. I know it’s expensive but keep searching for the answer. It may be your footwear, or even your pelvic alignment. I had a long period when I thought I’d have to give up walking anything over three miles but I did eventually find the right treatment for a hip problem.

    I really feel for you – when you’ve put so much effort into planning a trip having to abandon is not good for your confidence or well being. And that fear that the activity that means so much to you is at risk is just unbearable. There is an answer out there. Don’t give up. Sending a big hug x

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Hi there from far off Australia. I follow your posts with interest. Am sorry to hear about your PF. I know a lifelong bushwalker here who has had PF for over 2 years, and strangely, while walking, she is OK when off track, but on a hard surface the pain cuts in. Do try the USA’s most popular hiking shoe , The Lone Peak 3.5 by ALTRA. I have recently switched to them and they are “magic”. The Altra site also offers some tips for PF. A friend of mine gets by with exercises and taping his foot. Hope that your FP goes away soon

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Chrissie,

    I was only wondering how you guys were, with not seeing any postings here for a while.
    Though I’ve never had plantar fasciitis, you have my sympathies regarding the PF and the troubles it is causing you.
    It’s hard to look forward sometimes, I know only too well, but keep getting out there, even if it means tailoring your walking, and camping, enjoy it as you always do, even if the distance is shorter than planned.
    Hopefully one day, I’ll be able to walk with you guys again (though for me it’ll have to be a very short walk). But for me, that day is still a very long way off.
    Did I spy Tim Cooper with Rich Flint in a photo?
    ATB to you, Geoff, Dale and anyone else I’ve missed, I hope the dogs are fine?
    Mike, Peak Rambler

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m so sorry to hear this. I know how frustrating it is to have something that stops you being able to do what you love… and is part of what makes you you. Especially when you feel like it is never going to go away.
    I think you made the right decision stopping though! We do these things because we enjoy them – not to prove we can through excruciating pain and hardship!!

    Keep searching for a solution. It may take time, and a lot of research and trial and error, but you have to keep believing you can get back there.
    Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve had PF on & off since my late teens, initially unknowingly – probably caused by uneven sole wear on several pairs of heavy scarpa bronzos whilst carrying heavy backpacking loads. This was exacerbated by trashing my ankles several times playing football & running in my 20s 30s & 40s (I’m mid 50’s now). I’ve been broadly PF free now for about a decade. Here’s how. I noticed all my shoes & boots preferentially wore on the outside of my heels (unloaded my feet naturally rotate inwards due to all the ankle sprains). I experimented with squaring this wear off with ‘shoe goo’ and building up the same area on the rigid undersides of superfeet (though I’m not convinced this second fix works that well). This combined with calf stretches (legs straight and more importantly with bent knees) does the job for me. I rarely get a problem now. Wear on my ‘city shoes’ tends to give me an early mild PF warning that they need squaring off, if I delay the PF starts be ramp up. The shoe goo trick doesn’t work that well with vibram type soles – so I have to change boots more frequently than I used to (but I mostly wear trail runners anyway). Shoe Goo is widely available (eg Amazon) & I also can recommend ‘Stretching’ a book by Bob Anderson. I can’t promise any of this will work for you, but at least it’s cheap & easy to try. Hope you fix it soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, that’s all great information and funnily, i wear the outside edges of the heals first too, AND i now realise I’ve also had it a couple of times in years gone by. What really fascinates me about that realisation, is when I’ve had it before i haven’t known what it was but just assumed I’ve bruised my heel somehow, and the thing has gone away again almost before I’ve realised it…. Almost like if you don’t give something a name and pander to it, the body invariably just sorts it out! 😂

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  13. Chrissie, so gutted for you to read you’ve got this problem, and had to pull out of TGO Challenge.

    Andy has proved that this can be overcome, and you & Geoff are no dummies . . . have you considered that the ‘problem’ might not be in your foot, just manifesting there? I’ll try to explain without writing a novel so my explanation will be very superficial:

    For many years I suffered from excruciating shoulder pain, variously diagnosed as rotator cuff injury, calcific tendonitis, frozen shoulder and all sorts of other nonsense. I had given up fellwalking, wasn’t even able to garden or walk the dog properly. Hundreds of £££s on physio got me nowhere but one day I stumbled upon a brief mention on a website to “referred pain”. Very long story short (because there is a psychological element as well as a physical one) the problem was nothing to do with my shoulder – it was the insertion of some major muscles to the top of my pelvis. In less than a month we fixed years of pain and the limitations it brings using ultrasound (bought a small unit from Amazon), Epsom Salts baths, ibuprofen gell and a bit of brainwork too.

    Geoff knows how to contact me via my blog. Feel free to get in touch 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It has occurred to me to be honest that the problem could be due to something else, and I have been thinking psychological more than anything. I’ve even wondered if someone has an effigy of me that they’re sticking pins in…. 🙄

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  14. So sorry about your affliction. Not to put another advice forward, but would acupuncture help in some way? I know it has helped me for ailments, but not sure if Plantar F. would do well by it. Just a thought. Hope all works so that you can do some sort of hiking..if not now, perhaps with rest, but in the future. Good luck to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. My sympathies, it must have been hugely disappointing to stop and I know, from when I had knee trouble inn my twenties, how depressing and frustrating it is not be able to do the things that you love without pain. I’ve had PF too and know how debilitating it can be – fortunately, on the couple of occasions I’ve had it, it didn’t last too long and seemed to clear up of its own accord. A colleague at work who suffered also successfully used splints, presumably like the ones that Andy mentioned. I hope that you can find some way through this. On the referred pain front, I had a problem with my hip – long periods of sitting would make it seize up completely, particularly car journeys. Eventually, I saw a chiropractor and he traced the problem to bad posture and in particular my shoulder – writing on the board with my arm held awkwardly apparently – anyway, after some treatments and some exercises, it cleared up. All of which may not be relevant, but perhaps there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for you too? I hope so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for all that, I’ve had so many nice, supportive comments you’ve all cheered me up immensely and made me see that there is light at the end of the tunnel, as well as giving me loads of ideas to think about. 👍

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  16. Hey Chrissie, just catching on social media and seen this on the TGO Bloggers network. Hope you make a full recovery, I know how frustrating injuries can be. PF sounds awful. Keep your chin up, I’m absolutely sure you’ll be back out properly. Happy anniversary to you both by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This is my first visit your blog and I feel your pain. I’ve had PF in the past. It goes against all the traditional medical advice, but I found going barefoot as often as possible helped me. I also had a set of stretches that sent it into remission, including hamstring and calf stretches as well as the toe exercises that are often recommended. Mine was brought on by running, and I was able to go back to it by keeping up the daily stretches. So there is definitely light ahead – you just need to find what works for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Debra, many thanks for commenting. I found quite a but recently on Google about going barefoot and have started doing it round the house, the idea if course being that you strengthen the foot. Funnily it hardly even hurts barefoot! The problem now really seems to be on longer hill walks, after maybe a couple of hours. Then it can get excruciating…. I’ve also started doing the stretching exercises…..
      Actually I’ve also seen stuff about running barefoot , but then again I’m not a runner… 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Hi Chrissie,

    I was just searching WordPress to see if anyone was going through the same thing as me.

    I definitely feel your pain, because I’m also going through it at the moment! I’ve always had pains in my heels after long cross country races, though now it’s got to the point where standing for longer than 10-15 minutes is excruciating.

    I’ve done some really cool mountain treks like you too, but even short walks are painful now!

    I’ve found that custom insoles have been really helpful for my posture and I get significantly less knee/calf pain than I used to.

    I would definitely advise seeing a chiropodist/podiatrist if you can. I keep bouncing back and forth through the NHS through no avail, but decided to go private though costly.

    I hope things go well for and you make a quick recovery. It’s not a nice thing to be living with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, thanks for that!
      Isn’t it a shame that the NHS seems unable to deal with PF? Someone else I know has recently started with it, gone to his GP and been told to take ibuprofen!
      I hear you about the custom insoles, and I’m not ruling them out at all. This Monday though, I started with another physio who seems to specialise in PF. This time, this guy has analysed how I walk and seen a problem straight away, and as well as telling me how I need to change the way I use my left foot, has also given me specific exercises to strengthen my arch (which has apparently collapsed), and used the latest electrical equipment on my heel ie: both Shockwave Therapy and Tens Therapy. I’m seeing him again tomorrow morning, and expect to maybe go 6 or 7 times. He has identified that my problem is likely due to me fracturing my left fibula 7 years ago and being imobilised for 12 weeks – I myself recognise that I’ve walked differently ever since, had awful balance in that leg etc etc since then.
      I’ve also changed back to my trusty Sidas insoles (which I’ve used with no problems for years). The first physio suggested I might want to try some others like Superfeet, but I’ve not been convinced that they suited me properly.
      I’m cautiously optimistic now, but when you’re right in the middle of it, it’s certainly very hard to see a way out. I hope you find that way out soon, too!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Chrissie. Yes it’s definitely helpful to have someone look at your posture and gait! I’m going to try night splints and see if that can help the heel pain in the morning.

        Hopefully it will be good news soon!

        Liked by 1 person

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