• Plantar fasciitis is everywhere

    I just returned from the AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting (ARM), where I caught up with dozens of colleagues and met a few new ones. Turns out a very good ice breaker is, “Can we sit? My feet hurt.”

    Yes, the plantar fasciitis I beat is back. I had about a month completely symptom free during which I gradually transitioned from protecting my feet and stretching to adding some walking and strengthening.

    I guess it wasn’t gradual enough. When it came back, it came back with surprising strength and persistence. This is how soft tissue injuries go sometimes. It’ll probably be years before I fully understand how to manage it, judging from my experience with other over-use/repetitive strain injuries.

    For now I’m back to minimizing walking/standing, 3x per day stretching, night splints, tape, and massaging like mad.

    When I told people at the ARM why I needed to sit, it seems like half of those over 40 said they’d had (or currently have) plantar fasciitis too. My guess is that this crowd skews active (lots of runners) and this is a common ailment among aging, active people.

    As I told many of my colleagues, my best advice that I didn’t write about already is to find yourself a rock shaped like the one pictured below — flat bottom, tapering in a sort-of domed top pyramid. I found it in Costa Rica just as I was failing to find online something just like this.

    The best foot massager. For scale it’s about 1.5 inches tall.

    It is the absolute best foot massager. It’s better than balls and rollers because it comes to a finer point. (For a ball to feel similar, it’d have to be closer to marble sized, but that wouldn’t work because your foot would just fold around it and rest on the floor.) Because it doesn’t move, you can really lean into it and pull the foot fascia — stretching it. Balls are fine for mashing, but not pulling.

    Sometimes you want to mash and pull! Someone should make this. Manufacturers get cracking!

    Anyway, conferences are very hard when you can’t stand or walk much. But, I managed to come home in better condition than I left. (#winning)

    It was very helpful to have sympathetic ears. It seems everyone wants to talk about their feet if you just get them going.

    @afrakt

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