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My story

Posted by Kevin P on 6/14/01 at 22:05 (050729)

I thought it was about time I shared my experiences with fellow sufferers. About 6 years ago, when I was about 25, I woke one morning to find that I was experiencing a sharp pain in my right heel. It then became more of a dull pain after a few days. Then about 2 weeks later a similar pain developed in my left heel. I saw a physiotherapist who diagnosed me as having achilles problems. Well, little was I to know that this was the start of a long journey in searching not only for a cure but also on a more personal level as well.

Well the pain continued even after recommended stretches, rest, icing and inflammation tablets. The pain I was continuing to experience was largely associated with my plantar fascia on both feet which was particularly tight in the morning, but became more of a dull throbbing pain around the heel and ankle during the day.

I had to stop running and found it extremely difficult to stand for long periods (or for even short periods for that matter). Then in 1997 I stumbled across this website Scott had set up (what a top bloke!). I read and read all I could and basically self-diagnosed myself as having PF. Many people who wrote to the forum commented on the success, to varying degrees, they had experienced from stretching and orthotics. So I went to see a podiatrist and told him my story. This was about 6 months after getting my initial symptoms.

He completed a biomechanical analysis of my feet and lower leg commenting that my lower limb was slightly 'bowed' and that my feet were pronating to compensate. He also commented that my calf muscles were very tight. The best course of action from his perspective was set exercises to be done 3 times per day for the rest of my life and also wear custom made orthotics.

I received the orthotics and boy did they make a difference! However my plantar fascia was still very tight, particularly in the morning and although I could stand for longer periods there was still considerable discomfort in the form of a deep throbbing pain around my heel and under my ankle.

I took up cycling and limited my running to short runs once per week and basically thought well this is it, I'll have to cope and live with this discomfort forever. I thought to myself that other people must live with some form of pain and this is mine. I kept a very positive frame of mind through this period and continued to stretch rigorously, strengthened my calf muscles at the gym and always wore my orthotics. Without them my feet killed like buggery, particularly on flat hard surfaces. On the very few ocassions I didn't wear orthotics I could feel my plantar fasica stretch and become quite sore.

I learnt to live with the pain and discomfort. The key was to slowly warm up the plantar fascia in the morning, as jumping straight out of bed was not an option. Slowly stretch my feet and use a golf ball to bring blood into the foot region. Fortunately I did not have to spend lengthy periods on my feet during the day. Keeping active though was a high priority and I did not want this problem to stop me from enjoying myself and maintaining my fitness. This went on for a few years.

Then 2 years ago there were some trials held in a hospital in Melbourne, Australia looking at ESWT (Shock Wave Therapy). Although I wasn't in the trial group I had heard other people having had success through this forum and desperately wanted to give this ago. The therapy was conducted over 3 sessions in consecutive weeks. Following the first session I felt as though I had been healed. No pain! However the throbbing pain around my heel and ankle returned after a few days, but I did notice that my plantar fascia was no longer as tight. Anyway, since that treatment I can honestly say that I have never experienced tight foot muscles in the morning. My feet were feeling better, however I still found it difficult to stand for long periods even with my orthotics.

One problem down, one to go I thought, but didn't really think that it could ever be treated. I maintained a positive frame of mind, ran slightly longer distances (although I had to give my feet long rest periods afterwords), kept cycling and started doing a bit of swimming.

Then early this week I saw a Bowen Therapist who related the pain I was experiencing around me heel and ankles to my hips. Well this was new! She explained that many foot problems could be traced back to improper hip alignment. She was so confident and said I probably wouldn't need my orthotics after the treatment. Although I was slightly skeptical I felt excited about the holistic approach she adopted in treating the body.

She massaged and manipulated (very gently) various parts of my body and didn't really do much with my feet at all. Apparently I also have extremely tight hamstring muscles. Which explains my lack of flexability!! Nevertheless, I had made significant improvements in my flexability over the last few years as I improved my fitness and health.

After half an hour or so, in which time she spent a few minutes on several ocassions doing Bowen Therapy I was told to slowly get up. I was also told that walking would feel a bit different and that more than likely I didn't need my orthotics. Well, its been a few days now without orthotics and I'm actually not feeling much discomfort from standing at all. I do feel that I'm walking and standing a bit differently and I'm trying not to get too excited.

I've got another session in 10 days and it will be interesting to see if the pain returns in that time. I think I've turned to Bowen Therapy for a number of reasons, one of which has a lot to do with a personal journey I've been on. To be truthful, my feet have never felt so good, however, it is early days.

The only other posting I managed to find on the message board relating to Bowen Therapy was actually written back in 1997, and it also reported very favourable results.

If you've read this far well done! Managing with PT and its hybrids is difficult emotionally and physically. Having to decline certain activities with friends and family affects us personally. I don't think there is a single way to cure PT and we must each search for a method that works for us. I think that PT, like other ailments, provides each of us with the opportunity to look inwardly at ourselves. In essence, I had a choice in how I would let PT affect my life. In the end I was forced to look at what I really valued and clung to the positive aspects that defined me as a person.

Each of us tackles PT differently, you only have to read the postings to work that out! I decided to treat it as a journey. Maybe I'm in a fortunate position to do so. But if I was to offer any advice it would be to remain positive and think in terms of achieving small goals.

Re: My story

josh s on 6/15/01 at 00:14 (050738)

Hi Kevin, glad to hear you're doing well and hope it continues. Are you from Australia, the land of Tom Bowen? I too have received some Bowen therapy in the past (for other problems,alas, I cannot testify on it's efficacy for pf). In fact, I began training to be a Bowen therapist while living in Hawaii but was not able to complete the training.
My best experience as a recipient of this therapy was from a sagely grandmother psychotherapist MD from Australia. The two treatments I received from her enabled me to completely forget a knee trouble and back injury that I was suffering from at the time, at least for a while, and I often wonder what I could of gained had I remained in her care and not moved away.

I had several conversations with her about Bowen in which she expressed the belief that orthotic devices ultimately were bad for total body balance, an opinion that has haunted me as I've become dependant on them. After one of the treatments I had with her, I noticed my feet felt very different after leaving the table, actually a little flatter and more relaxed. Later, I had one of the most comfortable and joyous walks of my life.

Your post fills me with regret that I've left Bowen therapists behind in my recent move, but I remember now that there's a naturapath in the nearest city who practices it. For others, it's definately worth a try. Of all the bodywork techniques that are practiced on the fringes of modern technomedicine Bowen is unique for it's profound results as far as muscle relaxation and posture improvement- begot through such a gentle and simple method. It's like someone playing a harp with your muscles as the strings.

Thanks for noting your maintenance of a positive attitude. Personally, I'm so far physically from what I was two years ago, I have'nt been able to escape depression and have forgotten some of the positive alternative approaches that I'd found through the years. So focused on my feet I've become that I've forgotten how much overall body balance and posture can be. Particularly for folks who have been protecting their tender feet for a long time, we tend to develop all sorts of strange postural compensations and muscle imbalances in our attempts to cope and compensate. These bad habits once learned are difficult to remove, even when we find a new treatment or orthotic.

One example is head posture. Scott mentions in his book how important it is to have the center of gravity be able to 'tip over' the foot during walking. Longer calves or heel lifts can help at one end. Few foot experts notice that if you carry your head in front of your body with a slouch and crooked neck, a natural reaction while walking slowly and hesitantly to protect the feet, the rest of your body leans backward, preventing the center of gravity from falling forward, and tipping over the foot. In my experience, simply lifting my head and neck up can dramatically improve the comfort of my walking. However, if we've become sedentary or very tense in our backs from dealing with chronic foot pain, techniques such as the Bowen method can dramatically realign us.

Re: alternative approaches

josh s on 6/15/01 at hrmin (050741)

On previous posts I've referred to the book 'Tendon and Ligament Healing...'. For those visitors who are thinking of or are presently trying 'alternative' medical methods such as ART, myofascial release, Feldenkrais method, chiropractic, etc. this book is a very interesting read.

At http://www.tendonsligaments.com/recovery.htm#self%20help you'll find an interesting page on what these types of methods have to offer. Also on this site is a list of organizations that teach the methods described in the book, they may be able to provide referrals.

Re: My story

ellen w on 6/15/01 at 12:55 (050768)

Dear Kevin and Josh,

Thanks for the interesting info and sharing your stories.
ellen

Re: My story

BrianG on 6/15/01 at 16:10 (050778)

Hi Kevin,

I'm impressed with your maturity and ability to look at the big picture. For some reason, I just don't seem to see many people of your age group as dedicated as you are, in improving your fitness. You must not have MTV in your country! :*)

I can't believe you have continued to run throught this ordeal. Looking back, do you think it's been a wise decision to run though the pain? And what took you so long to come out of the closet, hahaaa

BCG

Re: My story

Kevin P on 6/17/01 at 21:40 (050925)

Why did I continue running? For a number of reasons, but probably because no one said that I shouldn't! The funny thing was I didn't feel too much pain when I ran, just afterwards. My original podiatrist actually said that I could continue running as long as I had the orthotics in my shoes. At no point did I feel that I was pushing through the pain. Perhaps I was continuing to redamage the tissue around the plantar fascia; I'm not really sure. I was very careful with planning when and how I ran, like a program or regime, but listening to what my body was telling me was also important. I never entertained the idea that I would have to be off my feet for a certain period.

It was when I visted the Bowen therapist that the past 6 years fell into place. The body is an amazing thing that is able to move physical ailments to different regions in your body to compensate for other problem areas, whether physical or mental. None of the traditional therapists remotely suggested that my hips might actually be causing my heel pain. What amazed me was how quickly and with such certainty she was able to diagnose my condition. In fact as she was applying therapy she said that my hamstrings, which I thought were reasonably flexible, were in fact very tight and needed slight adjustment/movement, which in turn would correct the positioning of my hips.

Well it's been almost a week and I'm glad to say that I haven't needed my orthotics and there is very little pain. I definitely feel that I am walking differently and the way my foot hits the pavement also feels a little different. It's like I'm using the balls of my feet more and my stride is more assured.

I actually went on a 20km forest walk on Saturday, up and down hills, along rivers and through the bush. I've never enjoyed it so much. My feet held up unbelievably. I new this would be a real test and I came through with flying colours. Even afterwards there was very little inflammation around the ankle and heel. As you can probably tell I'm getting a little excited.

Now whether this therapy works for everyone, who knows, because I think heel pain occurs for many different reasons. I just managed to work out the best therapy for me. Maybe it was simply time that my heel pain needed to be vanquished!

John, I defintely like my share of MTV, however everything in balance.......which is all the body is really trying to achieve in any case. Why did I wait so long to make a comment? Perhaps I'm a little shy, but its probably because I was waiting for the right time and previously I wasn't ready to share ;)

Kevster

Re: My story

Kevin P on 6/17/01 at 22:35 (050926)

Josh, thanks for sharing your thoughts and past experience with me and others. What a great place to learn Bowen...Hawaii! An interesting reflection I've just had is that my incidence of ankle sprains caused by rolling my ankle increased while I was wearing orthotics.

I to went through a few rough periods, feeling depressed about my current plight and thinking that I've got to wear these blasted orthotics forever. I was reliant on them. My biggest hurdle was what to wear at the beach, where I spend a bit of time surfing and throwing the frisbee during the warmer months ( for the geographers amongst us, its a place called Waratah Bay near Wilsons Promontory, near the southern most tip of mainland Australia). I decided to run around in my bare feet, and although I could feel the plantar fascia being a little tight it did help that I stretched properly beforehand and used an inflammation cream that warmed the sole of my feet. Ocassionally I'd have to rest my feet afterwards for several hours, but by the next day I was usually OK.

You mentioned Josh that you have become so focused on your feet. How true this is for most of us, where pain or problems in our lives become all consuming, not only from a time perspective but also in our thoughts. I probably won't be able to express my self very well, but what I'd like to say is that we can use this focus in a positive way. We need to recognise our problem, but it doesn't necessary have to limit us. Sure, there are some things we may have to give up, but there are so many otherwonderful things we can still do.

Generally speaking I found complaining about my feet counter productive. Initially I wanted to get this problem off my chest, and maybe we all need to go through this process, however friends and family weren't really all that supportive. Maybe no one likes to hear someone going on and on about how difficult life is or hearing about the same problem day after day. Complaining also reinforces a negative feedback mechanism about oneself.

My strategy was to work with my heel pain and try not to let it limit me. Listening to my body, being diligent with respect to taking preventative measures and focusing on enjoying what I already have were paramount. I'm sure after my initial outbursts to my friends in the early days about my feet, most of them probably forgot that I wore orthotics or had difficulty in standing or being on my feet for long periods.

Sometimes it was hard not to focus on my feet, just ask my wife, who would often hear me complaining about walking around the shopping mall for more than half an hour. I sometimes thought about these events. My feet always hurt more when I was doing something I didn't quite enjoy so much. Thought process in action once again! They tend to creep up on you if you're not careful.

Best of luck on your own personal journey Josh. It was interesting to hear how someone else has found Bowen therapy useful in another aspect of their lives.

Kevster

Re: My story

josh s on 6/15/01 at 00:14 (050738)

Hi Kevin, glad to hear you're doing well and hope it continues. Are you from Australia, the land of Tom Bowen? I too have received some Bowen therapy in the past (for other problems,alas, I cannot testify on it's efficacy for pf). In fact, I began training to be a Bowen therapist while living in Hawaii but was not able to complete the training.
My best experience as a recipient of this therapy was from a sagely grandmother psychotherapist MD from Australia. The two treatments I received from her enabled me to completely forget a knee trouble and back injury that I was suffering from at the time, at least for a while, and I often wonder what I could of gained had I remained in her care and not moved away.

I had several conversations with her about Bowen in which she expressed the belief that orthotic devices ultimately were bad for total body balance, an opinion that has haunted me as I've become dependant on them. After one of the treatments I had with her, I noticed my feet felt very different after leaving the table, actually a little flatter and more relaxed. Later, I had one of the most comfortable and joyous walks of my life.

Your post fills me with regret that I've left Bowen therapists behind in my recent move, but I remember now that there's a naturapath in the nearest city who practices it. For others, it's definately worth a try. Of all the bodywork techniques that are practiced on the fringes of modern technomedicine Bowen is unique for it's profound results as far as muscle relaxation and posture improvement- begot through such a gentle and simple method. It's like someone playing a harp with your muscles as the strings.

Thanks for noting your maintenance of a positive attitude. Personally, I'm so far physically from what I was two years ago, I have'nt been able to escape depression and have forgotten some of the positive alternative approaches that I'd found through the years. So focused on my feet I've become that I've forgotten how much overall body balance and posture can be. Particularly for folks who have been protecting their tender feet for a long time, we tend to develop all sorts of strange postural compensations and muscle imbalances in our attempts to cope and compensate. These bad habits once learned are difficult to remove, even when we find a new treatment or orthotic.

One example is head posture. Scott mentions in his book how important it is to have the center of gravity be able to 'tip over' the foot during walking. Longer calves or heel lifts can help at one end. Few foot experts notice that if you carry your head in front of your body with a slouch and crooked neck, a natural reaction while walking slowly and hesitantly to protect the feet, the rest of your body leans backward, preventing the center of gravity from falling forward, and tipping over the foot. In my experience, simply lifting my head and neck up can dramatically improve the comfort of my walking. However, if we've become sedentary or very tense in our backs from dealing with chronic foot pain, techniques such as the Bowen method can dramatically realign us.

Re: alternative approaches

josh s on 6/15/01 at hrmin (050741)

On previous posts I've referred to the book 'Tendon and Ligament Healing...'. For those visitors who are thinking of or are presently trying 'alternative' medical methods such as ART, myofascial release, Feldenkrais method, chiropractic, etc. this book is a very interesting read.

At http://www.tendonsligaments.com/recovery.htm#self%20help you'll find an interesting page on what these types of methods have to offer. Also on this site is a list of organizations that teach the methods described in the book, they may be able to provide referrals.

Re: My story

ellen w on 6/15/01 at 12:55 (050768)

Dear Kevin and Josh,

Thanks for the interesting info and sharing your stories.
ellen

Re: My story

BrianG on 6/15/01 at 16:10 (050778)

Hi Kevin,

I'm impressed with your maturity and ability to look at the big picture. For some reason, I just don't seem to see many people of your age group as dedicated as you are, in improving your fitness. You must not have MTV in your country! :*)

I can't believe you have continued to run throught this ordeal. Looking back, do you think it's been a wise decision to run though the pain? And what took you so long to come out of the closet, hahaaa

BCG

Re: My story

Kevin P on 6/17/01 at 21:40 (050925)

Why did I continue running? For a number of reasons, but probably because no one said that I shouldn't! The funny thing was I didn't feel too much pain when I ran, just afterwards. My original podiatrist actually said that I could continue running as long as I had the orthotics in my shoes. At no point did I feel that I was pushing through the pain. Perhaps I was continuing to redamage the tissue around the plantar fascia; I'm not really sure. I was very careful with planning when and how I ran, like a program or regime, but listening to what my body was telling me was also important. I never entertained the idea that I would have to be off my feet for a certain period.

It was when I visted the Bowen therapist that the past 6 years fell into place. The body is an amazing thing that is able to move physical ailments to different regions in your body to compensate for other problem areas, whether physical or mental. None of the traditional therapists remotely suggested that my hips might actually be causing my heel pain. What amazed me was how quickly and with such certainty she was able to diagnose my condition. In fact as she was applying therapy she said that my hamstrings, which I thought were reasonably flexible, were in fact very tight and needed slight adjustment/movement, which in turn would correct the positioning of my hips.

Well it's been almost a week and I'm glad to say that I haven't needed my orthotics and there is very little pain. I definitely feel that I am walking differently and the way my foot hits the pavement also feels a little different. It's like I'm using the balls of my feet more and my stride is more assured.

I actually went on a 20km forest walk on Saturday, up and down hills, along rivers and through the bush. I've never enjoyed it so much. My feet held up unbelievably. I new this would be a real test and I came through with flying colours. Even afterwards there was very little inflammation around the ankle and heel. As you can probably tell I'm getting a little excited.

Now whether this therapy works for everyone, who knows, because I think heel pain occurs for many different reasons. I just managed to work out the best therapy for me. Maybe it was simply time that my heel pain needed to be vanquished!

John, I defintely like my share of MTV, however everything in balance.......which is all the body is really trying to achieve in any case. Why did I wait so long to make a comment? Perhaps I'm a little shy, but its probably because I was waiting for the right time and previously I wasn't ready to share ;)

Kevster

Re: My story

Kevin P on 6/17/01 at 22:35 (050926)

Josh, thanks for sharing your thoughts and past experience with me and others. What a great place to learn Bowen...Hawaii! An interesting reflection I've just had is that my incidence of ankle sprains caused by rolling my ankle increased while I was wearing orthotics.

I to went through a few rough periods, feeling depressed about my current plight and thinking that I've got to wear these blasted orthotics forever. I was reliant on them. My biggest hurdle was what to wear at the beach, where I spend a bit of time surfing and throwing the frisbee during the warmer months ( for the geographers amongst us, its a place called Waratah Bay near Wilsons Promontory, near the southern most tip of mainland Australia). I decided to run around in my bare feet, and although I could feel the plantar fascia being a little tight it did help that I stretched properly beforehand and used an inflammation cream that warmed the sole of my feet. Ocassionally I'd have to rest my feet afterwards for several hours, but by the next day I was usually OK.

You mentioned Josh that you have become so focused on your feet. How true this is for most of us, where pain or problems in our lives become all consuming, not only from a time perspective but also in our thoughts. I probably won't be able to express my self very well, but what I'd like to say is that we can use this focus in a positive way. We need to recognise our problem, but it doesn't necessary have to limit us. Sure, there are some things we may have to give up, but there are so many otherwonderful things we can still do.

Generally speaking I found complaining about my feet counter productive. Initially I wanted to get this problem off my chest, and maybe we all need to go through this process, however friends and family weren't really all that supportive. Maybe no one likes to hear someone going on and on about how difficult life is or hearing about the same problem day after day. Complaining also reinforces a negative feedback mechanism about oneself.

My strategy was to work with my heel pain and try not to let it limit me. Listening to my body, being diligent with respect to taking preventative measures and focusing on enjoying what I already have were paramount. I'm sure after my initial outbursts to my friends in the early days about my feet, most of them probably forgot that I wore orthotics or had difficulty in standing or being on my feet for long periods.

Sometimes it was hard not to focus on my feet, just ask my wife, who would often hear me complaining about walking around the shopping mall for more than half an hour. I sometimes thought about these events. My feet always hurt more when I was doing something I didn't quite enjoy so much. Thought process in action once again! They tend to creep up on you if you're not careful.

Best of luck on your own personal journey Josh. It was interesting to hear how someone else has found Bowen therapy useful in another aspect of their lives.

Kevster