Homework for Healthy Feet
Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition wherein the fascial tissue of the underside of the foot becomes inflamed and loses elasticity. It is seen often in athletes and those with occupations which keep them on their feet: runners, dancers, wait staff, even acupuncturists. The degree of pain ranges broadly and is often worst at the start of the day, fading as the muscles warm up and become more limber.
Here’s what you can do about it on your own:
- Stretch! The most effective homework. Especially focus on the hamstrings (your calves and the backs of your thighs) and the bottoms of your feet. Need ideas? Schedule an appointment.
- Golf ball: also essential. Spend at least 5 minutes per day rolling each foot over a golf ball or similar apparatus. You don’t need to use your entire body weight, just enough to open up the bottoms of your feet. Keep one handy, both at home and at work, if you sit or stand somewhere that allows you to use it.
- Soak your feet: use warm water, with or without Epsom salts.
- Moxa: you can do your own indirect moxa at home on your heels and arches. Ask your acupuncturist to show you how.
- Plasters/other topicals: anything with menthol, like Tiger Balm, or arnica, like Traumeel, can be applied to your feet and calves 1-2x/day. 701 Plaster is one that I like to keep on hand; it includes warming agents and East Asian blood moving herbs on a latex backing (so should be avoided by those with latex allergies). Any topicals with blood moving herbs should be discontinued during pregnancy. If you are unsure what the ingredients in your topical agent do, it is best to discontinue use and check in with an MD, ND, and/or your acupuncturist.
- Gua sha: using a broad, ceramic soup spoon, rub the bottoms of your feet. Make sure to apply sufficient oil. You may want to ask your acupuncturist for a demo first.
May your feet be happy and healthy!