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To Robin

Posted by Nancy S. on 3/30/00 at 00:00 (018025)

Hi Robin -- Would you tell me what kinds of stretches and exercises you did as you were improving toward the good place you seem to be now? I'm asking because I keep trying to expand on these things in my daily regimen, and actually I think I felt better before -- when, during my rest, I simply swam and did a few calf stretches and one strengthening exercise. I've been adding to this recently, and almost think I am beginning to regress because of it. My couple of hours of barn work was going well, and now . . . it's becoming more of a struggle, with evening soreness that I wasn't having before. Maybe some of us are not meant to do these things with and to our feet. My feet got plenty of exercise while just doing my work, and where I went wrong in the first place seemed to me to be working for way too many hours at a time on a hard barn floor in really lousy footwear. Did you do any of the stretches and exercises proposed on the board, or did you just gradually build up strength by walking (in Birks, of course) and by dealing with inflammation with bromelain? (I'm getting mine today at health food store.) Am I trying to get too fancy? That's what I'm wondering. I would welcome your opinion --Nancy

Re: To Robin

Robin on 10/20/99 at 00:00 (011855)

I am taking 500 mg (600 gdu's each) 3 times a day also, like you. Occasionally I take an extra pill.

I noticed results after 1 to 2 weeks. Maybe bromelain doesn't work for you. I have heard some people have had good results with pancreatin. I haven't tried it because I am reluctant to tamper with even mini-success.


Re: To Robin

Robin on 10/20/99 at 00:00 (011855)

I am taking 500 mg (600 gdu's each) 3 times a day also, like you. Occasionally I take an extra pill.

I noticed results after 1 to 2 weeks. Maybe bromelain doesn't work for you. I have heard some people have had good results with pancreatin. I haven't tried it because I am reluctant to tamper with even mini-success.


Re: To Robin

Robin B. on 3/30/00 at 00:00 (018057)

Hi Nancy (glad to see you are back). I guess I am an anomaly. I don't do ANY stretching. I know that about 95% of the people on this board swear by stretching. But not me.

I tried it, for sure. For weeks on end I did the famous runner's up-against-the-wall stretch several times a day -- and ached and ached for the rest of the day each time I did it. My feet hurt twice as much when I was stretching as when I wasn't. Whew -- what a relief to finally take treatment back into my own hands and stop.

I have my own theory about why stretching hurts me. I have been to 2 podiatrists. Neither was overwhelmingly impressive -- but they both examined my feet pretty thoroughly and both told me that my foot is VERY flexible, that I definitely over-pronate and that the plantar fascia was simply stretched and irritated FAR beyond the point where it might qualify as 'daily wear and tear.' Neither doctor described thickened fascia or tight calf muscles and neither doctor recommended stretching. Both recommended serious arch support (orthotics as the case may be, but I decided to go the Birk route instead.) Stretching was something I learned about from this site and other Internet sites and decided to try (and stop) on my own.

The truth is -- for me, I don't believe I have tight calf muscles at all. My calf muscles seem pretty strong and flexible. I think what I have is an overly stretched out plantar fascia in both feet -- which (here comes the second half of my theory) I believe is why Birkenstocks feel so super good -- they really hold up my arch in the wake of that completely stretched out fascia so that each time my very flexible foot takes a step forward, the fascia isn't stretching out again, over and over. The Birk arch support seems to hold it in normal position. It is just a theory of course -- but I HAVE made great improvement with Birks so I'm pretty convinced that might be the answer for my case.

Nancy, so the long and short of it is -- I don't exercise my feet, I don't do 'toe-grasping' exercises or foot strengthening exercises, I don't stretch and I don't try to solve my own particular problem with strengthening the muscles in my feet -- because I don't think the muscles in my feet are going to do much for that poor irritated overly-stretched fascia. When I DO do any of those things -- I suffer big time the next day or two. Which means for me -- it's silly to continue.

By the way, I bought an outdoor bicycle a couple of weeks ago. I can only walk about 2 or 2.5 miles at a time, which is wonderful of course but it's not all that much. Lately, I am putting a lot more emphasis on biking than on walking -- and my feet feel even better. I spent about 5 to 6 hours on my feet today, on and off, walking and standing, and never even had to ice them down. No pain, just an itsy twinge of discomfort at day's end.

In total, what works for me is constantly wearing Birks, bromelain, no stretching, probably about an hour of aerobic exercise almost every day, and some of the low-carb dietary changes we talked about previously. I used to ice maybe twice a day, but I now only do it when I feel the need.

Nancy, if I were you -- I would pursue anything that makes you feel better. If that's not stretching, fine. If that's taping, fine. If that's bromelain or vitamin C or Mephistos or Birks, fine. My own personal approach (and I already know that not a lot of people here subscribe to it) is that the most critical step in resolving PF is to identify at least one strategy (probably shoes first) that alleviates the pain enough for you to concentrate on trying other remedies and treatments. If you're still having luck with Birks, I would be careful with the stretching. Maybe try 2 or 3 weeks without major foot exercises and just with shoes, rest, bromelain -- and then re-evaluate. I genuinely believe (from reading this board so much) that most people don't give treatments enough time. I gave glucosamine 7 stinking months before I finally bailed because it wasn't enough relief. The low carb diet (now about a year old for me) is STILL something I am having to mess around with and adjust regularly and then evaluate.

Sorry for the length and run-on -- but I do (strongly) believe that there is NOT one cause and NOT one cure and that not everyone benefits from the same remedies. Hardly anyone on this board has gotten better doing the combination of things I have done -- and yet, I was once one of the really hard-core cases and today, not quite 2 years later, I am so vastly improved that it never stops amazing me. Nancy -- hang in there, trust your own instinct and experiment based on it -- I know it will guide you to the right combination for your own feet. And please -- let us all know how you are progressing. Good to have you back on this board.


Re: To Robin

Nancy S. on 3/30/00 at 00:00 (018065)

Thank you, Robin, and I'm very glad to hear the biking is working out for you and your feet are even better. (I'm a real klutz on a bike -- guess I'll stick to swimming.)
Very interesting that you've gotten so much better without stretching -- but your theories about your own case make sense to me. My legs were in good working shape before the PF hit, but I do know my calves are now tight from the diminishing ability to work last year and then the resting I've been doing the last few months. The calf stretches have helped me, but once again I think this week I've been trying to hurry everything along and overdoing it. Alan suggested stretching them for only a few seconds at a time, and I did that today and think that's a better way for me. Otherwise, the wisest course seems to be just as you said: what feels right for my individual feet. If it hurts, I'm not going to do it. Today I think this means doing the shorter version of calf stretches, swimming (does swimming strengthen the foot, I wonder?), and continuing to use my barn work as foot exercise -- resting when needed. All the information on this board is so great, and provides so many ideas and methods for people to try -- and what it comes down to, as you say, is to follow your own instincts and find what works for you as an individual and stick to it. You are an excellent example of that perseverance. I guess I'm just now learning another level of 'listen to your feet.'
Yes, Birks are still by far the best for me. On the few days when I wear orthotics in other decent shoes, I have some pain at the end. Then, what a relief to get out of those things and into the Birks. The orthotics were about one-quarter relief when I first got them; the Birks were at least double that.
Just took my first bromelain! I'll keep you posted, and thanks again, Robin --Nancy

Re: To Robin

john h on 3/31/00 at 00:00 (018079)

robin: a well thought out and written post. i would not disagree with anything you wrote. in fact, i cannot add anything to it!!

Re: To Robin

Robin B. on 3/30/00 at 00:00 (018057)

Hi Nancy (glad to see you are back). I guess I am an anomaly. I don't do ANY stretching. I know that about 95% of the people on this board swear by stretching. But not me.

I tried it, for sure. For weeks on end I did the famous runner's up-against-the-wall stretch several times a day -- and ached and ached for the rest of the day each time I did it. My feet hurt twice as much when I was stretching as when I wasn't. Whew -- what a relief to finally take treatment back into my own hands and stop.

I have my own theory about why stretching hurts me. I have been to 2 podiatrists. Neither was overwhelmingly impressive -- but they both examined my feet pretty thoroughly and both told me that my foot is VERY flexible, that I definitely over-pronate and that the plantar fascia was simply stretched and irritated FAR beyond the point where it might qualify as 'daily wear and tear.' Neither doctor described thickened fascia or tight calf muscles and neither doctor recommended stretching. Both recommended serious arch support (orthotics as the case may be, but I decided to go the Birk route instead.) Stretching was something I learned about from this site and other Internet sites and decided to try (and stop) on my own.

The truth is -- for me, I don't believe I have tight calf muscles at all. My calf muscles seem pretty strong and flexible. I think what I have is an overly stretched out plantar fascia in both feet -- which (here comes the second half of my theory) I believe is why Birkenstocks feel so super good -- they really hold up my arch in the wake of that completely stretched out fascia so that each time my very flexible foot takes a step forward, the fascia isn't stretching out again, over and over. The Birk arch support seems to hold it in normal position. It is just a theory of course -- but I HAVE made great improvement with Birks so I'm pretty convinced that might be the answer for my case.

Nancy, so the long and short of it is -- I don't exercise my feet, I don't do 'toe-grasping' exercises or foot strengthening exercises, I don't stretch and I don't try to solve my own particular problem with strengthening the muscles in my feet -- because I don't think the muscles in my feet are going to do much for that poor irritated overly-stretched fascia. When I DO do any of those things -- I suffer big time the next day or two. Which means for me -- it's silly to continue.

By the way, I bought an outdoor bicycle a couple of weeks ago. I can only walk about 2 or 2.5 miles at a time, which is wonderful of course but it's not all that much. Lately, I am putting a lot more emphasis on biking than on walking -- and my feet feel even better. I spent about 5 to 6 hours on my feet today, on and off, walking and standing, and never even had to ice them down. No pain, just an itsy twinge of discomfort at day's end.

In total, what works for me is constantly wearing Birks, bromelain, no stretching, probably about an hour of aerobic exercise almost every day, and some of the low-carb dietary changes we talked about previously. I used to ice maybe twice a day, but I now only do it when I feel the need.

Nancy, if I were you -- I would pursue anything that makes you feel better. If that's not stretching, fine. If that's taping, fine. If that's bromelain or vitamin C or Mephistos or Birks, fine. My own personal approach (and I already know that not a lot of people here subscribe to it) is that the most critical step in resolving PF is to identify at least one strategy (probably shoes first) that alleviates the pain enough for you to concentrate on trying other remedies and treatments. If you're still having luck with Birks, I would be careful with the stretching. Maybe try 2 or 3 weeks without major foot exercises and just with shoes, rest, bromelain -- and then re-evaluate. I genuinely believe (from reading this board so much) that most people don't give treatments enough time. I gave glucosamine 7 stinking months before I finally bailed because it wasn't enough relief. The low carb diet (now about a year old for me) is STILL something I am having to mess around with and adjust regularly and then evaluate.

Sorry for the length and run-on -- but I do (strongly) believe that there is NOT one cause and NOT one cure and that not everyone benefits from the same remedies. Hardly anyone on this board has gotten better doing the combination of things I have done -- and yet, I was once one of the really hard-core cases and today, not quite 2 years later, I am so vastly improved that it never stops amazing me. Nancy -- hang in there, trust your own instinct and experiment based on it -- I know it will guide you to the right combination for your own feet. And please -- let us all know how you are progressing. Good to have you back on this board.


Re: To Robin

Nancy S. on 3/30/00 at 00:00 (018065)

Thank you, Robin, and I'm very glad to hear the biking is working out for you and your feet are even better. (I'm a real klutz on a bike -- guess I'll stick to swimming.)
Very interesting that you've gotten so much better without stretching -- but your theories about your own case make sense to me. My legs were in good working shape before the PF hit, but I do know my calves are now tight from the diminishing ability to work last year and then the resting I've been doing the last few months. The calf stretches have helped me, but once again I think this week I've been trying to hurry everything along and overdoing it. Alan suggested stretching them for only a few seconds at a time, and I did that today and think that's a better way for me. Otherwise, the wisest course seems to be just as you said: what feels right for my individual feet. If it hurts, I'm not going to do it. Today I think this means doing the shorter version of calf stretches, swimming (does swimming strengthen the foot, I wonder?), and continuing to use my barn work as foot exercise -- resting when needed. All the information on this board is so great, and provides so many ideas and methods for people to try -- and what it comes down to, as you say, is to follow your own instincts and find what works for you as an individual and stick to it. You are an excellent example of that perseverance. I guess I'm just now learning another level of 'listen to your feet.'
Yes, Birks are still by far the best for me. On the few days when I wear orthotics in other decent shoes, I have some pain at the end. Then, what a relief to get out of those things and into the Birks. The orthotics were about one-quarter relief when I first got them; the Birks were at least double that.
Just took my first bromelain! I'll keep you posted, and thanks again, Robin --Nancy

Re: To Robin

john h on 3/31/00 at 00:00 (018079)

robin: a well thought out and written post. i would not disagree with anything you wrote. in fact, i cannot add anything to it!!