It seemed like any ordinary morning. I yawned and leaped out of bed, ready to face the day. But the moment I hit the ground, I screamed in pain and sat back down on the bed, clutching my feet. The bottom of my feet, around the heels especially, were in horrible pain.
I managed to hobble to the subway on the outsides of my feet, arriving at my midtown office, where I attempted to stay in my chair rather than make my usual over-caffeinated dashes to and from the copy machine. Taking a long lunch, I limped to a podiatrist on 34th st, and he diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis, popularly known as fallen arches.
In some cases, this condition comes on slowly–but this was sudden. The usual causes didn’t apply to me. I did light exercise, not strenuous. I was not overweight. I walked a lot, but nothing extreme. So why did it happen? I have low arches–not flat feet medically speaking, but I have never been able to wear heels. My calf muscles are tight–I’m not the most flexible person. Those two things were apparently enough.
“Fallen arches” sounds like some glamorous architectural ruin, but it’s far from it. The term is not technically correct; it doesn’t mean your arches have moved or collapsed. It means that the fascia, or tendons, in your feet have become inflamed from being torn or stretched. Other risk factors can be nerves, autoimmune conditions, or things you’re born with, as well as pregnancy or obesity, as those put eight on your feet. Even diabetes can play a role. Having very high arches can cause the condition as well.
The podiatrist, a kindly doctor with models and charts of feet all around his office, observed me do some motions. He felt my tendons. He looked at my feet and the wear patterns on my foot soles.
Here is a video that I came across showing the Top 3 Signs Your Foot Pain is Plantar Fasciitis from physicaltherapyvideo. My meeting with my doctor was something like this. These guys know their stuff!
The above video should give you some more information on plantar fasciitis, but now let’s get back to my little visit to my doc.
He took models of my feet by having me step into a soft substance, sort of like leaving your footprints in soft cement.
Soon the orthotics, which are thin, hard inserts, were ready. Once you get them, you need to wear them forever to stave off a relapse. You’re supposed to get checked to see if you new ones every couple of years or at whatever intervals your podiatrist recommends.
Many different materials can be used to make orthotics. Mine are a hard plastic, perhaps polypropylene. Others can be softer, such as EVA, or harder , such as carbon fiber. They are nothing like orthodontic shoes, which are specially made corrective shoes.
He told me to always wear enclosed (not backless) shoes that have arch support, such as New Balance, and to always wear the orthotics. Once you get them, you need them forever, to avoid painful relapses.
The minute I put in the orthotics I felt better. It took a little while to get used to the feeling, but now I feel lost without them. When I buy shoes, I take them out to try them on in the new shoes. Shoes need a little space to accommodate them, but it’s not a problem. The doctor had told me to avoid backless shoes, but after some months the pain went away and I indulge in backless shoes for short periods now and then.
Plantar fasciitis is one of many foot conditions that can be corrected by foot orthotics. The devices correct alignment with the knees, and distribution of weight and balance. Prescription orthotics are different from shoe inserts you buy at the store.
You don’t have to have sudden pain to get orthotics. If you have chronic foot pain that makes it hard to walk or stand, you may want to check out this non-invasive, long-lasting solution.
Here’s a video you can watch that provides even more information on plantar fasccitis.