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heelspurs and yoga

Posted by mindyb on 8/21/02 at 15:58 (093115)

What is the relationship of heelspurs and yoga. I am a yoga teacher who has developed heel spurs. Do you think it is related? Or is yoga a good excercise for the problem?

Re: heelspurs and yoga

Julie on 8/22/02 at 02:47 (093182)

Mindy

I am also a yoga teacher and have also had PF, and I would be glad to discuss this with you, but first you really need to say more. Overstretching in certain postures could certainly be a contributory factor, but without knowing what you're doing, and why you suspect there may be a relationship, I wouldn't want to comment.

What are your symptoms, when did you notice them coming on, and, most importantly, what have you done about them so far? Have you seen a podiatrist? What 'style' of yoga do you practise and teach?

I'll make two points now. 'Heel spurs' are only very rarely the cause of the pain of plantar fasciitis. Many people have spurs but no pain; many others have pain but no spurs. The 'spurs' seem to be tissue laid down by the body in its attempt to heal the injury.

There are a number of conservative treatments for PF. One of them is - don't go barefoot. This isn't going to be easy for you, but I hope you will take it on board. My students got used to me standing before them in my Birkenstocks - and because I explained why I had to do it, they all learned a lot about PF. Even now, 18 months after my PF resolved, I keep my Birks in front of me and slip into them if I'm going to be standing for any length of time.

I'm happy to talk to you more about this. Your turn!

Re: heelspurs and yoga

mindyb on 8/23/02 at 14:02 (093340)

Hi Julie,
>
> Thanks for your interest. I guess I would have PF not heel spurs. I actually
> didn't know if there was a relationship, like I might have injured my heel
> doing yoga, or if doing yoga might help heal it.
>
> This has started coming on in the past couple of months. I had a lower back
> injury (from yoga) that healed, but maybe began compenstating for that
> injury. Also am an artist and started working on a concrete floor. Thinking
> maybe I need some better shoes.
>
> I practice Iyengar yoga. Orginally I come from California, so going barefoot
> has been second nature. I guess I will have to tone that down. Did you do
> any other form of treatment? I was looking at those weird boots, orthotics
> etc.
>
> Many thanks for your help and information. This is making my teaching
> difficult.
>
> Mindy
>

Re: heelspurs and yoga

Julie on 8/25/02 at 05:40 (093454)

Hi Mindy

First, my sympathies. I know your PF must be making your teaching difficult. I'll never forget the intense pain I experienced while teaching, when my PF began. Standing still, barefoot, while talking students through the postures they're doing, is a real killer, isn't it? So is demonstrating the postures, so is practising them. So I know what you're dealing with.

(But at least yoga teachers don't have to stand ALL the time, as do people in some occupations!)

Fortunately, I found heelspurs.com (and a good podiatrist) early on in my researches, and from both I learned not to go barefoot: it puts additional strain on the injured fascia. I took a pair of Birkenstock Arizona sandals to my studio, and started wearing them all the time while doing standing work with the students. Of course I had to explain why their normally-and-properly-barefoot teacher was suddenly wearing sandals, so all my students became PF-educated. It was useful for them, as I quickly realised. One already had PF: I had observed her shifting her weight from foot to foot since I'd known her, and had concluded that she was simply fidgeting. Once I knew what was wrong, I advised her to wear trainers in class, and she has. Another developed PF a few months later: thanks to my 'lectures' she knew what it was, knew what to do about it, and healed quite quickly.

What I'm (rather long-windedly) getting at is that the experience of PF, like every other experience in life, is something we can learn from, and what we learn can be useful to others. If we see it that way. If we see it as a challenge to our teaching, rather than simply as an obstacle.

So, although it may be difficult for you to make the (emotional as well as physical) leap into teaching non-barefoot, I would strongly advise you to do it, particularly as you teach a style of yoga in which so much of the emphasis is on standing poses. I would go further and say that slip-on sandals aren't necessarily the best thing for you. In demonstrating the Iyengar yoga poses you probably need a lace-up shoe like a good, supportive trainer. With the wide-leg poses you'd be in danger of falling out of sandals. I teach a simpler, less physically demanding style of Hatha Yoga, but I know the Iyengar poses and would not like to do any of the variations of Trikonasana or Virabhadrasana in my Birks!

You might possibly find that some of your teaching colleagues raise their eyebrows, but my guess is that Mr Iyengar would agree with me, and approve of your wearing shoes. He has a big heart, is my impression.

Now to your question. Is there a relationship between your yoga and your PF? You say you had a back injury, so it's possible. If the injury impinged on your sciatic nerve, one of whose branches terminates in the foot, it's quite possible. I've always believed that that's how mine started, and my podiatrist thought so too (he says that many cases of PF, including his own, start with a back injury).

I'd be interested to know what you were doing when the injury happened. I'll tell you how mine did. I was demonstrating Trikonasana, and I felt an intense 'twang' in my lower back at the initial turning-out of the hip stage. I'd had this pain before, many times over the years, but this time it was worse than it had ever been. It took several weeks to resolve, and two weeks into the process my PF began. I'm fairly sure there was a connection.

This was in July 2000. With diligent treatment the PF resolved in five months. By January 2001 I was 95% better, but still had twinges when I overdid. Since last summer (2001) I've been what I consider healed: I can do everything I want to do and there are no more twinges. But I am still vigilant, and always wear stable, supportive trainers with my orthotics in place, or my Birkenstocks (I still keep a pair in my teaching room and still slip into them if I'm going to be on my feet for a long spell). I'm taking no chances.

And I have re-thought my teaching of postures that demand that extreme outward rotation of the hip joints. It's the way I was taught, and the way I have practised and taught this group of postures for many years, but I am now convinced (and not just from my own unfortunate experience) that the technique places intense stress on the lower back, particularly on L4-5 and L5-S1, and on the sacro-iliac joints. Over the years (in my own case I'm talking about 30+ years) this can cause lower back damage, and in my case it has (I shall need to be careful with my lower back, as well as my feet, for the rest of my life). And so I no longer practise or teach them in this way.

I offer the thought for your contemplation, not expecting you to agree with me, at least not right away. I know how hard it is to change one's ideas and ways, especially if one has respect for the tradition in which one was taught, as I do and as I'm sure you do. But if we're practising and teaching something that ultimately may hurt us - and our students - I think we need to be open-minded and prepared to change.

It was difficult for me. Safety has always been my 'bottom line' priority. I had always considered myself a safe teacher, so it was painful to have to acknowledge that I had been teaching people a technique that might, ultimately, prove harmful to them. The damage is done over a period of time, remember, as the area is repeatedly stressed, and the consequent weakness may not reveal itself until years down the line, when it finally causes trouble.

Now to your PF. (I'm sorry this is turning into such a long post). Will yoga help heal it? Not necessarily. Try to avoid or at least limit the standing postures for now (in your own practice, I mean: I know you need to teach them). Do simple movements that will keep your foot muscles strong and your ankle joints mobile. (I posted a series of Pawanmuktasana foot exercises a few weeks ago - Carole found the link to it for someone else yesterday - see her post under the thread 'For Ed S. - Stretching') If you walk for recreation, cut back - and if you're a runner, stop running for now, until you're completely healed. Non-weightbearing exercise, such as swimming, is best.

You need to see a podiatrist. I hope you'll find one with the experience, skill, expertise and equipment to evaluate your condition, including your biomechanics, give you an accurate diagnosis, and put in place a suitable treatment programme. This may include modalities such as icing to reduce inflammation, NSAIDs also to reduce inflammation, taping, to provide support for your arch(es). Taping 'rests' the fascia and gives it a chance to heal. If taping is helpful, it usually indicates that custom orthotics will probably be even more helpful. I have orthotics, and taped every day for several months as well (what we in England call the 'belt and braces' approach).

Stretching is usually advised for PF in order to lengthen the gastroc/soleus/achilles complex and thus increase the angle of dorsiflexion. A short, tight GSA complex is almost certainly not your problem - but in any case, please be careful with any weight-bearing stretches that are recommended.

Stay off your feet as much as you can. Do you have to do your art work on a concrete floor? If you really can't avoid this (it's the worst possible thing for PF) at least wear the best quality, most supportive shoes you can find. And don't stand for too long at a stretch.

Read the heel pain book (click on the blue title right here) and inform yourself with it and with these message boards. But don't be hit-and-miss: there is no substitute for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan that is tailored for you, so do find a podiatrist. There are good ones and not-so-good ones. If you aren't happy with the first one you see, find another. The doctors here are very helpful, and reading their posts can give you a good idea of what to look for in a foot doctor.

Most cases of PF resolve with conservative treatment, but it's a long process - think months rather than weeks. Be patient.

As you start learning about PF, you'll probably have lots more questions. Don't hesitate to ask.

I hope this has been helpful, and I wish you all the best.

Julie

Re: heelspurs and yoga

mindyb on 8/28/02 at 00:10 (093775)

Dear Julie,

Thanks for your amazingly detailed reply. I really appreciate the special attention to the problem of the yoga practice. I am taking your information into serious consideration.

My orginal back injury was due to lifting some heavy stuff on the way to a yoga retreat, then I was responsible for teaching the next 4 days. In real life I could have let it rest, but people had flown in for this retreat, so I messed it up good. It took a month to repair and I am sure I compensated for the problem which exacerbated a weakness in my heel.

That combined with working on concrete a lot of the day, probably has put me where I am now.

The biggest problem is that I live in a remote town in West Texas that is 150 miles from any real city with a podiatrist. I went to a doctor here and
she put my on some anti-inflammatory drug. Which worked well, but I had a
unpleasant reaction to and had to go off.

Will be going to a large city soon to get some decent shoes. Hopefully with all this great information, I will avoid getting any worse and start to heal.

Luckily, my yoga teaching is only a few sessions a week, so not so abusive.
My own practice I can adapt to the problem.

Again, many thanks for your help and concern. There is a real issue of credibility when you need to teach yoga and you can't even stand up. Truthfully, I think my students are glad to do more sitting and reclining postures.

Best to you.

Mindy B

Re: heelspurs and yoga

Julie on 8/28/02 at 05:27 (093782)

Mindy

Yes, the credibility issue is a tough one. May I offer some thoughts about this?

A big hurdle for us yoga teachers is admitting to ourselves (and our students) that we're human, and are subject to the ills that afflict the rest of humanity. If I have a cold, my husband teases me: 'but you do yoga, you're not supposed to get colds'. And when I had breast cancer, more than one person said to me 'with all your yoga, how could you get cancer?'

But of course yoga teachers catch colds, and get cancer. Yoga probably helps to avoid illness for longer, and certainly helps us to deal with it when it happens, but it doesn't exempt us from it. Some of the great spiritual masters have died of cancer: Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharshi to name only the best known.

And yoga teachers get PF. You don't have to hide this from your students: don't be ashamed of it. Be truthful with them about your pain, and let them know that you're dealing with it. It will only increase their trust in you. And your credibility. People like knowing that their teacher is human, and not perfect: it's a relief. And, as I said earlier, your students will learn from your experience as you share with them what you are learning.

What I've felt since I started teaching is that our own pains, injuries, afflictions, etc can be put to good use in our teaching. What we learn from a back injury, for instance, gives us deeper insight into what our students who have back problems are dealing with. It makes us more sensitive teachers. Whenever I've had a physical problem to deal with, it has taught me something that I've been able to use in my teaching.

Your last sentence is right on. I'm sure that your students will appreciate an increased emphasis on sitting and reclining postures! And as you subtly adjust your teaching to accommodate your pain, you may also find that your teaching deepens in ways you cannot foresee or imagine. Be open to these possibilities.

A practical suggestion for when you do want to teach standing postures. Do you have in your classes one or two experienced students whom you could use to demonstrate them? This can be beneficial apart from relieving you of the strain and pain of demonstrating. It gives you the opportunity to make teaching points to the class by referring to another 'body', in a way that's impossible when you're using your own body to demonstrate. And it gives the students you're using to demonstrate a real push in their own practice. If you haven't already made use of this technique, it gives you another string to your bow.

***

You mention going to a big city to get some good shoes. Could you delay that for a bit to give you time to search for a good podiatrist in that city, and get a proper work-up, diagnosis and treatment plan?

The 'right' shoes for you will be ones that suit your foot type. New Balance are frequently recommended and well thought of, but there are dozens of models for different types of feet - so it really would be useful to get a full evaluation of your biomechanics first. I discovered North Face Targas a year or so ago and have found them perfect - good support and stability, lots of thickness in the sole, lots of room in the toebox. I don't know of anyone else here who wears them, but I've lived in them very happily and they are the best shoes I've ever had. Others have had good experiences with Birkenstocks, SAS and Danskos, and Elliott has recently posted about his new Swedish clogs called Bastad, which sound marvellous.

As you seem to have to stand a lot, I really would recommend that you try taping. There is a section on taping in part 2 of the heel pain book, with illustrations and instructions. The simple, two-strip method was extremely helpful to me for several months. Taping substitutes its support for the support the injured fascia can no longer give, and thus 'rests' the fascia, giving it a chance to heal, as well as relieving the pain.

Never go barefoot. Really. Never. Your arch needs support: every step you take barefoot is stressing the fascia and possibly re-injuring it. As a native Californian you have probably discovered Birkenstocks - the molded footbed approximates orthotics, and gives good support. If they suit you (they don't suit everyone) they will be helpful. The original Birks, the Arizona sandals, have been my lifesavers.

Icing will reduce inflammation - a bag of frozen peas works well. Or use one of those sports gel packs that you can put in the freezer.

I'm glad you found my first unconscionably long post helpful. This has turned into another unconscionably long one. I hope it's useful too.

All good wishes for your healing.

Julie

Re: heelspurs and yoga

Julie on 8/28/02 at 06:07 (093783)

Mindy, another thought. If you've never worked in chairs with your students, you've now got the perfect opportunity to try. It's extremely useful when you can't do much standing or lying on the floor, or in life situations when you're obliged - as at desk jobs - to sit for long periods. There are lots of postures - forward bends, backward bends, side stretches and twists - that can be adapted for chairs. You could have a look at my book, 'Office Yoga' - out of print now, but I think there are still second hand copies around, and there is an Indian edition. Try a search on my name (Julie Friedeberger) at Amazon.com.

Re: Mindy: yoga pose for PF

elliott on 8/28/02 at 07:48 (093785)

Sorry for your troubles.

I've been practicing Iyengar yoga for a year and a half, being a runner in my former existence. If you have any secrets as to what I can do to accomplish a split, I'm listening. :-) Anyway, there are a few yoga stretches for PF. One in particular, shown to the class by our yoga instructor, cured a runner friend of mine. This stretch has been discussed before on these boards. Here are the relevant threads I dug up describing the stretch:

bbt.cgi?n=89634

bbt.cgi?n=92280

bbt.cgi?n=89882

You may also want to do a search on 'aggressive stretching'; some of the hits will give you some background.

Everyone here agrees that a raw hard stretch is bad for PF. But there is disagreement about the merits of a careful but deeper stretch after conservative means fails, or even whether one should describe it on these boards. Give the conservative stuff some time, and regardless, always do the Julie stretches in the mornings before getting out of bed. But if you're not having success, you may find the deeper yoga stretch worth a try. Some of the reservations some here have about it (e.g. they are not good for the obese and/or inflexible) I doubt applies to you, a yoga instructor. Good luck.

-----

Re: heelspurs and yoga

mindyb on 9/01/02 at 12:15 (094132)

Yes, great idea. I have worked with chair poses and enjoy them a lot.
I will look up your book, it's always a plus to add new information to the classes. Also will help me with my PF.

Thanks

MindyB

Re: heelspurs and yoga

Julie on 8/22/02 at 02:47 (093182)

Mindy

I am also a yoga teacher and have also had PF, and I would be glad to discuss this with you, but first you really need to say more. Overstretching in certain postures could certainly be a contributory factor, but without knowing what you're doing, and why you suspect there may be a relationship, I wouldn't want to comment.

What are your symptoms, when did you notice them coming on, and, most importantly, what have you done about them so far? Have you seen a podiatrist? What 'style' of yoga do you practise and teach?

I'll make two points now. 'Heel spurs' are only very rarely the cause of the pain of plantar fasciitis. Many people have spurs but no pain; many others have pain but no spurs. The 'spurs' seem to be tissue laid down by the body in its attempt to heal the injury.

There are a number of conservative treatments for PF. One of them is - don't go barefoot. This isn't going to be easy for you, but I hope you will take it on board. My students got used to me standing before them in my Birkenstocks - and because I explained why I had to do it, they all learned a lot about PF. Even now, 18 months after my PF resolved, I keep my Birks in front of me and slip into them if I'm going to be standing for any length of time.

I'm happy to talk to you more about this. Your turn!

Re: heelspurs and yoga

mindyb on 8/23/02 at 14:02 (093340)

Hi Julie,
>
> Thanks for your interest. I guess I would have PF not heel spurs. I actually
> didn't know if there was a relationship, like I might have injured my heel
> doing yoga, or if doing yoga might help heal it.
>
> This has started coming on in the past couple of months. I had a lower back
> injury (from yoga) that healed, but maybe began compenstating for that
> injury. Also am an artist and started working on a concrete floor. Thinking
> maybe I need some better shoes.
>
> I practice Iyengar yoga. Orginally I come from California, so going barefoot
> has been second nature. I guess I will have to tone that down. Did you do
> any other form of treatment? I was looking at those weird boots, orthotics
> etc.
>
> Many thanks for your help and information. This is making my teaching
> difficult.
>
> Mindy
>

Re: heelspurs and yoga

Julie on 8/25/02 at 05:40 (093454)

Hi Mindy

First, my sympathies. I know your PF must be making your teaching difficult. I'll never forget the intense pain I experienced while teaching, when my PF began. Standing still, barefoot, while talking students through the postures they're doing, is a real killer, isn't it? So is demonstrating the postures, so is practising them. So I know what you're dealing with.

(But at least yoga teachers don't have to stand ALL the time, as do people in some occupations!)

Fortunately, I found heelspurs.com (and a good podiatrist) early on in my researches, and from both I learned not to go barefoot: it puts additional strain on the injured fascia. I took a pair of Birkenstock Arizona sandals to my studio, and started wearing them all the time while doing standing work with the students. Of course I had to explain why their normally-and-properly-barefoot teacher was suddenly wearing sandals, so all my students became PF-educated. It was useful for them, as I quickly realised. One already had PF: I had observed her shifting her weight from foot to foot since I'd known her, and had concluded that she was simply fidgeting. Once I knew what was wrong, I advised her to wear trainers in class, and she has. Another developed PF a few months later: thanks to my 'lectures' she knew what it was, knew what to do about it, and healed quite quickly.

What I'm (rather long-windedly) getting at is that the experience of PF, like every other experience in life, is something we can learn from, and what we learn can be useful to others. If we see it that way. If we see it as a challenge to our teaching, rather than simply as an obstacle.

So, although it may be difficult for you to make the (emotional as well as physical) leap into teaching non-barefoot, I would strongly advise you to do it, particularly as you teach a style of yoga in which so much of the emphasis is on standing poses. I would go further and say that slip-on sandals aren't necessarily the best thing for you. In demonstrating the Iyengar yoga poses you probably need a lace-up shoe like a good, supportive trainer. With the wide-leg poses you'd be in danger of falling out of sandals. I teach a simpler, less physically demanding style of Hatha Yoga, but I know the Iyengar poses and would not like to do any of the variations of Trikonasana or Virabhadrasana in my Birks!

You might possibly find that some of your teaching colleagues raise their eyebrows, but my guess is that Mr Iyengar would agree with me, and approve of your wearing shoes. He has a big heart, is my impression.

Now to your question. Is there a relationship between your yoga and your PF? You say you had a back injury, so it's possible. If the injury impinged on your sciatic nerve, one of whose branches terminates in the foot, it's quite possible. I've always believed that that's how mine started, and my podiatrist thought so too (he says that many cases of PF, including his own, start with a back injury).

I'd be interested to know what you were doing when the injury happened. I'll tell you how mine did. I was demonstrating Trikonasana, and I felt an intense 'twang' in my lower back at the initial turning-out of the hip stage. I'd had this pain before, many times over the years, but this time it was worse than it had ever been. It took several weeks to resolve, and two weeks into the process my PF began. I'm fairly sure there was a connection.

This was in July 2000. With diligent treatment the PF resolved in five months. By January 2001 I was 95% better, but still had twinges when I overdid. Since last summer (2001) I've been what I consider healed: I can do everything I want to do and there are no more twinges. But I am still vigilant, and always wear stable, supportive trainers with my orthotics in place, or my Birkenstocks (I still keep a pair in my teaching room and still slip into them if I'm going to be on my feet for a long spell). I'm taking no chances.

And I have re-thought my teaching of postures that demand that extreme outward rotation of the hip joints. It's the way I was taught, and the way I have practised and taught this group of postures for many years, but I am now convinced (and not just from my own unfortunate experience) that the technique places intense stress on the lower back, particularly on L4-5 and L5-S1, and on the sacro-iliac joints. Over the years (in my own case I'm talking about 30+ years) this can cause lower back damage, and in my case it has (I shall need to be careful with my lower back, as well as my feet, for the rest of my life). And so I no longer practise or teach them in this way.

I offer the thought for your contemplation, not expecting you to agree with me, at least not right away. I know how hard it is to change one's ideas and ways, especially if one has respect for the tradition in which one was taught, as I do and as I'm sure you do. But if we're practising and teaching something that ultimately may hurt us - and our students - I think we need to be open-minded and prepared to change.

It was difficult for me. Safety has always been my 'bottom line' priority. I had always considered myself a safe teacher, so it was painful to have to acknowledge that I had been teaching people a technique that might, ultimately, prove harmful to them. The damage is done over a period of time, remember, as the area is repeatedly stressed, and the consequent weakness may not reveal itself until years down the line, when it finally causes trouble.

Now to your PF. (I'm sorry this is turning into such a long post). Will yoga help heal it? Not necessarily. Try to avoid or at least limit the standing postures for now (in your own practice, I mean: I know you need to teach them). Do simple movements that will keep your foot muscles strong and your ankle joints mobile. (I posted a series of Pawanmuktasana foot exercises a few weeks ago - Carole found the link to it for someone else yesterday - see her post under the thread 'For Ed S. - Stretching') If you walk for recreation, cut back - and if you're a runner, stop running for now, until you're completely healed. Non-weightbearing exercise, such as swimming, is best.

You need to see a podiatrist. I hope you'll find one with the experience, skill, expertise and equipment to evaluate your condition, including your biomechanics, give you an accurate diagnosis, and put in place a suitable treatment programme. This may include modalities such as icing to reduce inflammation, NSAIDs also to reduce inflammation, taping, to provide support for your arch(es). Taping 'rests' the fascia and gives it a chance to heal. If taping is helpful, it usually indicates that custom orthotics will probably be even more helpful. I have orthotics, and taped every day for several months as well (what we in England call the 'belt and braces' approach).

Stretching is usually advised for PF in order to lengthen the gastroc/soleus/achilles complex and thus increase the angle of dorsiflexion. A short, tight GSA complex is almost certainly not your problem - but in any case, please be careful with any weight-bearing stretches that are recommended.

Stay off your feet as much as you can. Do you have to do your art work on a concrete floor? If you really can't avoid this (it's the worst possible thing for PF) at least wear the best quality, most supportive shoes you can find. And don't stand for too long at a stretch.

Read the heel pain book (click on the blue title right here) and inform yourself with it and with these message boards. But don't be hit-and-miss: there is no substitute for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan that is tailored for you, so do find a podiatrist. There are good ones and not-so-good ones. If you aren't happy with the first one you see, find another. The doctors here are very helpful, and reading their posts can give you a good idea of what to look for in a foot doctor.

Most cases of PF resolve with conservative treatment, but it's a long process - think months rather than weeks. Be patient.

As you start learning about PF, you'll probably have lots more questions. Don't hesitate to ask.

I hope this has been helpful, and I wish you all the best.

Julie

Re: heelspurs and yoga

mindyb on 8/28/02 at 00:10 (093775)

Dear Julie,

Thanks for your amazingly detailed reply. I really appreciate the special attention to the problem of the yoga practice. I am taking your information into serious consideration.

My orginal back injury was due to lifting some heavy stuff on the way to a yoga retreat, then I was responsible for teaching the next 4 days. In real life I could have let it rest, but people had flown in for this retreat, so I messed it up good. It took a month to repair and I am sure I compensated for the problem which exacerbated a weakness in my heel.

That combined with working on concrete a lot of the day, probably has put me where I am now.

The biggest problem is that I live in a remote town in West Texas that is 150 miles from any real city with a podiatrist. I went to a doctor here and
she put my on some anti-inflammatory drug. Which worked well, but I had a
unpleasant reaction to and had to go off.

Will be going to a large city soon to get some decent shoes. Hopefully with all this great information, I will avoid getting any worse and start to heal.

Luckily, my yoga teaching is only a few sessions a week, so not so abusive.
My own practice I can adapt to the problem.

Again, many thanks for your help and concern. There is a real issue of credibility when you need to teach yoga and you can't even stand up. Truthfully, I think my students are glad to do more sitting and reclining postures.

Best to you.

Mindy B

Re: heelspurs and yoga

Julie on 8/28/02 at 05:27 (093782)

Mindy

Yes, the credibility issue is a tough one. May I offer some thoughts about this?

A big hurdle for us yoga teachers is admitting to ourselves (and our students) that we're human, and are subject to the ills that afflict the rest of humanity. If I have a cold, my husband teases me: 'but you do yoga, you're not supposed to get colds'. And when I had breast cancer, more than one person said to me 'with all your yoga, how could you get cancer?'

But of course yoga teachers catch colds, and get cancer. Yoga probably helps to avoid illness for longer, and certainly helps us to deal with it when it happens, but it doesn't exempt us from it. Some of the great spiritual masters have died of cancer: Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharshi to name only the best known.

And yoga teachers get PF. You don't have to hide this from your students: don't be ashamed of it. Be truthful with them about your pain, and let them know that you're dealing with it. It will only increase their trust in you. And your credibility. People like knowing that their teacher is human, and not perfect: it's a relief. And, as I said earlier, your students will learn from your experience as you share with them what you are learning.

What I've felt since I started teaching is that our own pains, injuries, afflictions, etc can be put to good use in our teaching. What we learn from a back injury, for instance, gives us deeper insight into what our students who have back problems are dealing with. It makes us more sensitive teachers. Whenever I've had a physical problem to deal with, it has taught me something that I've been able to use in my teaching.

Your last sentence is right on. I'm sure that your students will appreciate an increased emphasis on sitting and reclining postures! And as you subtly adjust your teaching to accommodate your pain, you may also find that your teaching deepens in ways you cannot foresee or imagine. Be open to these possibilities.

A practical suggestion for when you do want to teach standing postures. Do you have in your classes one or two experienced students whom you could use to demonstrate them? This can be beneficial apart from relieving you of the strain and pain of demonstrating. It gives you the opportunity to make teaching points to the class by referring to another 'body', in a way that's impossible when you're using your own body to demonstrate. And it gives the students you're using to demonstrate a real push in their own practice. If you haven't already made use of this technique, it gives you another string to your bow.

***

You mention going to a big city to get some good shoes. Could you delay that for a bit to give you time to search for a good podiatrist in that city, and get a proper work-up, diagnosis and treatment plan?

The 'right' shoes for you will be ones that suit your foot type. New Balance are frequently recommended and well thought of, but there are dozens of models for different types of feet - so it really would be useful to get a full evaluation of your biomechanics first. I discovered North Face Targas a year or so ago and have found them perfect - good support and stability, lots of thickness in the sole, lots of room in the toebox. I don't know of anyone else here who wears them, but I've lived in them very happily and they are the best shoes I've ever had. Others have had good experiences with Birkenstocks, SAS and Danskos, and Elliott has recently posted about his new Swedish clogs called Bastad, which sound marvellous.

As you seem to have to stand a lot, I really would recommend that you try taping. There is a section on taping in part 2 of the heel pain book, with illustrations and instructions. The simple, two-strip method was extremely helpful to me for several months. Taping substitutes its support for the support the injured fascia can no longer give, and thus 'rests' the fascia, giving it a chance to heal, as well as relieving the pain.

Never go barefoot. Really. Never. Your arch needs support: every step you take barefoot is stressing the fascia and possibly re-injuring it. As a native Californian you have probably discovered Birkenstocks - the molded footbed approximates orthotics, and gives good support. If they suit you (they don't suit everyone) they will be helpful. The original Birks, the Arizona sandals, have been my lifesavers.

Icing will reduce inflammation - a bag of frozen peas works well. Or use one of those sports gel packs that you can put in the freezer.

I'm glad you found my first unconscionably long post helpful. This has turned into another unconscionably long one. I hope it's useful too.

All good wishes for your healing.

Julie

Re: heelspurs and yoga

Julie on 8/28/02 at 06:07 (093783)

Mindy, another thought. If you've never worked in chairs with your students, you've now got the perfect opportunity to try. It's extremely useful when you can't do much standing or lying on the floor, or in life situations when you're obliged - as at desk jobs - to sit for long periods. There are lots of postures - forward bends, backward bends, side stretches and twists - that can be adapted for chairs. You could have a look at my book, 'Office Yoga' - out of print now, but I think there are still second hand copies around, and there is an Indian edition. Try a search on my name (Julie Friedeberger) at Amazon.com.

Re: Mindy: yoga pose for PF

elliott on 8/28/02 at 07:48 (093785)

Sorry for your troubles.

I've been practicing Iyengar yoga for a year and a half, being a runner in my former existence. If you have any secrets as to what I can do to accomplish a split, I'm listening. :-) Anyway, there are a few yoga stretches for PF. One in particular, shown to the class by our yoga instructor, cured a runner friend of mine. This stretch has been discussed before on these boards. Here are the relevant threads I dug up describing the stretch:

bbt.cgi?n=89634

bbt.cgi?n=92280

bbt.cgi?n=89882

You may also want to do a search on 'aggressive stretching'; some of the hits will give you some background.

Everyone here agrees that a raw hard stretch is bad for PF. But there is disagreement about the merits of a careful but deeper stretch after conservative means fails, or even whether one should describe it on these boards. Give the conservative stuff some time, and regardless, always do the Julie stretches in the mornings before getting out of bed. But if you're not having success, you may find the deeper yoga stretch worth a try. Some of the reservations some here have about it (e.g. they are not good for the obese and/or inflexible) I doubt applies to you, a yoga instructor. Good luck.

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Re: heelspurs and yoga

mindyb on 9/01/02 at 12:15 (094132)

Yes, great idea. I have worked with chair poses and enjoy them a lot.
I will look up your book, it's always a plus to add new information to the classes. Also will help me with my PF.

Thanks

MindyB