Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's now physical therapy for my plantar fasciitis

I am now under the care of a leading physical therapist here in the Denver area who specializes in foot and ankle issues and specifically plantar fasciitis. His name is Rob and he's perfect for my situation because he's an Ironman triathlete, a marathoner and an aspiring Leadville 100-Mile Mountain Bike Race finisher (entered the lottery and is awaiting the verdict).

I'm scheduled to see Rob a total of 12 times over a period of 6 weeks and am two sessions into my therapy and seeing great results. Because I haven't satisfied the $1,000 deductible for my health insurance, this will all be out-of-pocket (each session is about $60-$70)! My treatment includes deep-tissue massage, stretches, dexamethasone via iontophoresis, ultrasound and strengthening exercises. It is vital that my left foot, calf and hamstring are stretched a few times per day. To prevent imbalances, I stretch my right foot and leg, too.

I'm able to run on a treadmill with minimal pain and am placing a greater emphasis on cross-training activities like stationary cycling and the elliptical to stay in shape. I'm also weight-training, focusing on high reps. But most of my time is being spent on the treadmill, where I really feel I'm doing zero harm to my foot since I'm on a soft, flat surface in a controlled environment. I think the constant ups and downs of the road and trail would do harm, which is why I'm on the treadmill right now and I'll stay on the treadmill until I think I can handle the road and trail again.

Last week, I was really discouraged about my foot and having serious doubts about the 2011 racing season--even the Leadville 100-Mile Run, which is in August. And while I'm still concerned, I do feel like the physical therapy is working. I've undergone iontophoresis before (for heel bursitis, which I had mistakenly self-diagnosed as Achilles tendonitis) and responded well to it. This is my first experience with ultrasound and deep-tissue massage. I think the cumulative effect of these treatments, along with stretching and strengthening, will work. Rob told me that most persistent cases of PF are in overweight people. The very fact that my weight is beyond healthy (168 lbs.) and I'm in shape is working to my advantage. This, I think, has really inspired Rob to work closely with me and truly help me get back to 100%.

On a side note, I can't imagine how frustrating it must be for PTs to work with patients who have conditions like PF because of excess weight and show very little interest in solving the underlying problem. As someone who's lost over 50 pounds and kept it all off for nearly 8 years and counting (thanks to a sustainable diet focusing on whole grains, good fats, fruits and veges, and lean proteins including cage-free eggs, grass-fed beef and free-range chicken), I truly believe maintaining a healthy weight is so critical!

I will continue to post on my recovery and experience with physical therapy for my plantar fasciitis. But in the meantime, if you have foot pain that could be plantar fasciitis, please seek immediate treatment by a specialist. Do not try to "run through" the injury, because you simply cannot train through PF. It is a serious injury for a runner and athlete--an injury that warrants your full attention. The longer you run with PF, the harder (and more expensive) it is to treat. So do yourself and your future as a runner a big favor and seek immediate treatment for foot pain!


Though not Oscar-winning material, the movie "Blood Sport" is a guilty pleasure of mine. It's the story of the ever-badass Frank Dux, who was the first American to win a very intense, underground karate tournament known as Kumite. This was back in the 1970s. In "Blood Sport," Dux is played by Jean Claude Van Damme. Anyway, the final fight scene is quite intense and inspirational. It always pumps me up.


  1. Dude you just need the Achilles Tendonitis Strengthening Exercises. They did this big group study in Sweden with hard core cases and the eccentric exercises fix it. I found it Sports Injury Bulletin.

  2. Curious about your experience w/ heel bursitis. I've been wrestling w/ substantial heel pain for a while now. I've had some good luck of late w/ ART and work loosening up my calf muscle. Thought for some time that I was dealing w/ PF, but the pain is localized, completely, in the heel. Bursitis is possible.

    Good luck w/ the healing process. I took 18 days off in November/December. Sucks. (And the time off did little for me. One ART PT visit did more for me than the extended time off.)

    Hang in there.

  3. Hi Jim: When I had heel bursitis, I had initially incorrectly diagnosed the problem as Achilles tendonitis. I remember being really surprised when the doctor said my Achilles was fine and that it was the bursa sac behind the tendon that was inflamed. For me, temporary heels lifts and dexamethasone via iontophoresis worked. I also cut back on hills for a short while. Once I was underdoing treatment, the problem cleared up pretty nicely. You also want to make sure your calves are stretched.

    Good luck!