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Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

Posted by Joe L on 3/09/03 at 08:35 (112325)

It has been a while since I've posted on here so it's time for an update. After 3+ years of wearing flatish shoes my feet are still doing fine. Many people have responded to me with similar results when they went flat. I can still walk on hard cement all day and not notice my feet. Gone are the days when I looked forward to sitting down in the evening just to get off my feet. Please post on this site if you try gong flat so others will benifit from your results, good or bad. E-mail me with your results or if you post because I don't check this site any more. Below is a copy of my first post on this site about 3 years ago.

I have suffered with Plantar Fashion It Us for over a year and a half. Morning pain, soreness all day, painful burning of the arch and just worn out feeling feet. It started in the left foot and after self treatment with no success, saw a doc who gave me anti-inflamatories and shoe inserts with a large arch support. They hurt big time but he assured me that was normal and it would probably get better. After several weeks it started in the right foot and it was then I quit wearing the inserts and just wore running shoes with a somewhat high arch and this full wrap around foot support shaped like the bottom of a foot, typical of the new style of shoes. Months later while still suffering with PF in both feet, I was on a flight with nothing to do and though about the way a foot is designed. The heel is hard, the pad behind the toes a hard pad too. The arch is a soft and shaped like an arch so would not normally bear any weight walking on a hard flat surface. So why in the world would you wear a shoe that put pressure on the soft tissue in the arch? I felt stupid for not thinking of this until now. The next day I went barefoot as much a possible, cut a little heel step in some old running shoes, took out the insert and cut and sanded it so it was much like walking with no shoes at all. The results were impressive. I also started again with Ibuprofen, which did very little in the past. In about 3 to 5 weeks the soreness was almost gone but the occasional burning in the left foot persisted for several months. (This very painful burning had been present for almost a year and only a stretch would relieve it.) The burning has gone away and my feet feel great. I currently wear running shoes with sole and insert modifications to keep the pressure off of the arch as much as possible. Also some Tandy moccasins are good for just running around the house. I also wear Sperry Topsiders but these still need some more modification as they are still a bit 'shaped' in the arch and put a bit too much pressure in the wrong spot. I am now wondering if all this PF is caused from these new style of shoes with these fancy molded rubber and foam inserts made to conform to the bottom of an average foot. Remember Keds? The sole and insert was cut from sheet foam and rubber. No arch support, it was just like walking on flat ground. I was younger then but I never remember my feet hurting. Looking back, I think Birks caused my PF to start. I'll never wear another arch support shoe. Give me flat ground any day. It does take a while to build back you heel toughness but that is the way a foot is designed to work. My feet don't feel 'worn out' any more. I can go all day walking and standing now, something I couldn't do before. NO morning pain at all! I encourage all who suffer with PF to try this and get your feet back into proper shape. I certainly was easy and cheap, once I understood the problem. Give it a try! Also, e-mail me if this works for you.

Re: Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

Pauline on 3/09/03 at 10:42 (112331)

Many posters purchased orthotics only to have them collect dust because they caused soooo much pain. I was one of them.

I find your post very interesting and to this day do not believe that orthotics encourage muscle strengthing of the foot only dependency. Perhaps there are people who need them for severe biomachanical reasons, but my theory is that they are totally over sold to millions of people who do not need them.

We do not see much about exercises to strengthen individual foot muscles, only stretching them. We also hear a lot about the foot in constant need of orthotic support because of the world we live in today.

I'm sure there are people who will read your post and want to know more because they too have had no success with orthotics and have come to feel the same about them as you.

Re: Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

peter f on 3/09/03 at 14:28 (112342)

Joe-thankgoodness somebody agrees. I have a high arch and every arch support/insert puts pressure on my pf causing great pain-(especially over the medial tuberosity)I even put up with it for 5 months having been told that the orthotic would stretch the scar tissue to a normal shape-I now have flat thick very soft inserts and my feet are much better.

Anybody who designs hard plastic inserts for PF should not be allowed to sell them until they have had pf themselves and tried walking on them!

Re: Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

BGCPed on 3/09/03 at 19:18 (112371)

That is great for you. I also agree about many orthotics being made with the same raise the arch and it will fix it logic. I can assure you though that your solution would not work for many pf patients. There are people that cant tolerate support that holds their foot in neutral. Many pt that cant tolerate them is due to improper device and or shoes.

Re: Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

monte on 3/09/03 at 19:29 (112376)

can you tell me what insoles you use? i too had to can the orthotics for a while since they were hurting the arches and not allowing them to heal. They felt bruised.

Re: Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

Joe L on 3/09/03 at 20:51 (112384)

What kind of insoles does not seem to mattter. I usually use what ever the shoes come with. I select shoes now based on several thing. I usually try to get a shoe with some kind of heel and that has a insert that can be removed. Then the molded arch support and contour heel cup are sanded to make more of a flat insert. I can't have all that gushey soft stuff pushing up into my arch. I will start to notice in a few hours if I don't get it sanded enough. I know this is counter to current medical practice, but if your feet hurt because of PF, you don't have anything to loose by trying this. I just took off my top siders and am now bare foot. When I just went into the kitchen which is tile, the only thing I noticed was the cold floor.

Re: Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

peter f on 3/10/03 at 03:48 (112401)

mine are actually a spongey set with a leather top fron another pair of shoes-they look rather flat with only a very slight arch but really so do a lot of shoes we buy

Re: Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

john h on 3/10/03 at 09:54 (112418)

They are certainly oversold Pauline. I remember my first visit to a doctor when I had never heard the word PF. I was not in the office for 10 minutes when I was being casted for hard orthotics. My symptons at that time were mild. After wearing the hard orthotics and going back to running I gradually became chronic with PF. I can not state with certaininty that the hard orthotics made me worse but I do suspect they contributed to my problem.

Re: Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

Lolly O on 3/10/03 at 10:29 (112422)

The pod had me wearing those $11.00 inserts in my running shoes 18 hrs a day. I an wondering if this is what caused my TTS.

But since I have dished that pod and the $11.00 inserts and started wearing birks, I hope I will soon get better.

Re: Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

Rose M. on 3/10/03 at 16:51 (112467)

Unbelievable!!!!!! I took my orthodics out this morning at work, and now...8 hours later, there is no arch pain!!!!!! thank you!!!!!

Re: Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

john a on 3/10/03 at 16:52 (112468)

This is good news for you, and you almost have me convinced. But what's your theory about people who apparently developed PF eventhough the shoes they were wearing were flat to begin with? That seems to be the case with me, and many others I'll bet.

Re: Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

Ellen J. on 3/10/03 at 18:16 (112483)

Hi Joe,
I read your note with lots of interest. I keep thinking that my feet want a flat surface with nothing pushing on my arch but am scared to try going barefoot (or without arch support) after continually hearing that it can make symptoms worse. I tried my flat shoes without arch supports a few days ago and my feet felt pretty good but I only went for 1/2 hour that way and then waited until the next day to see if my feet were going to react badly to the test.
The question that keeps running around in my head is: If you make the transition, are the feet sort of sensitive to pressure, etc. for awhile? My feet feel very delicate from having babied them for so long. If I step on the tiniest wrinkle in my bathroom rug I can feel it. Did your feet act very sensitive for awhile until they toughened up? Also, when you made modifications to your running shoe insert, do you mean that you sanded off the arch part of it? When you mean 'flats', do you mean shoes with no heel, or just 'flat inside, with no arch support?' Sorry for all the questions. This issue has been in the back of my mind for many months and I'm very curious about your experience.
Ellen J.

Re: Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

Joe L on 3/10/03 at 20:17 (112496)

Well basically you want your shoes to reflect a flatish platform for your feet step on. I also stay away from shoes with wedge soles. How flat? How much cushion? Keep trying things until you hit a flatness that seems to work for you. Too gushey shoes even if they are flat will feel like molded arch support insoles when loaded with the pressure of your foot. Also, my feet never did seem to be very sensitive but it may just be that I didn't notice. I also would not recommend trying to go flat an hour at a time. Do it all at once while taking ibuprofen. When I tried switching between flat and arch support, it seemed to be too much change and hurt.

Re: Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

Rosemary on 3/11/03 at 06:18 (112518)

Just for the record to avoid confusion, there seems to be two Rose M's,and we have different experiences. I usualy wore flat shoes (pre PF) and always walked in bare feet. When I think back, my unrelenting pain really did begin with very high heeled shoes at work about a year ago. I also have removed my hard orthodics (they were killing me), rreplaced them with drug store gel inserts and I have over time increased my ability to stand on them. When I walked barefoot, my feet soles were much more calloused (sp?) I have often wondered if those tough soles actually protected my feet, now I feel like I am walking on bones.

Re: Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

Ellen J. on 3/11/03 at 09:27 (112526)

Thanks, Joe.
I think I'll give it a try and see what happens. I really wish I could wear running shoes but all of them have molded arch supports, even under the insert. I'm going to call Road Runner Sports catalog and ask them if they have any flat running shoes (not that I can run anymore, but I do want to wear them to the fitness center).
Thanks again for your response. I'm really glad your feet are better. That's exciting news!

Re: Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

Ellen J. on 3/11/03 at 09:33 (112528)

Hi Rosemary,
I think you are onto something, because when I got P.F. 3.5 yrs ago, I had been wearing some shoes that had 2 inch heels that I loved and wore all the time. Now, whenever I wear shoes with any type of heel my feet get very sore. When Joe mentioned flat shoes I could relate.
Yes, I think the callouses (sp? I don't have time to check the spelling) do protect the feet. I wonder if there's a way to build up the toughness of the feet without stressing them. I would love the simplicity of being able to go without orthotics. You are right, without callouses on the feet, it feels like the bones are almost protruding and that there is no cushioning on them.
You brought up some interesting points. Thanks!

Re: Update: No PF for 3 years. Feet feel great.

josh s on 3/15/03 at 23:00 (113107)

Good post.

Although for those who have ankle equinus problems that are uncommonly stubborn going flat would be counter productive. There is suprisingly little literature about barefoot/flat as an 'alternative'. There was a series of papers written by a Canadian M.D. (Stevens I think) who showed that walking/running barefoot on varied terrain (non-paved mostly) actually resulted in an increase in arch height (internal orthotic) as the intrinsic musculature of the foot was stimulated and revitalized. He pointed out that the foot muscles of a lifelong shod foot were atrophied and stuck together when disected, whereas a barefoot cadaver showed well developed and differentiated intrinsics.

There has also been some incidence in the literature of reports that constant pressure applied to the non-weightbearing arch (as by orthotics) interferes with normal proprioception and walking reflexes. Check out runningbarefoot.com to see what the foot is capable of.

In my case my longest period of foot health since I was nineteen was a three year span when I hardly ever wore shoes and hiked and mountain climbed vigorously, mostly barefoot. Now, convinced that with my ankle equinus going flat is a big no no, I wonder if that period was the answer or contributed to the problems I have now. In any case I'm not willing to go flat until I get more ankle ROM.

Clearly, podiatry is in it's infancy in regards to biomechanics and conservative foot treatment. Going back to nature or our evolutionary heritage (barefoot) seems like a good place for new research to start. (Do they actually do research in podiatry? No funds probably.)

Re: Bare feet

Ellen J. on 3/17/03 at 15:43 (113229)

I have been wondering the same things. I would like to try going barefoot but my biggest worry is that until the feet become accustomed to it (tougher skin), I could step on something like glass or a sharp stone and aggravate my P.F. Therefore I'm wondering if it is a reasonable idea to substitute with a flat pair of thong-type sandals that have no arch support. Maybe that wouldn't work, but I wonder. I was thinking that a person could try bare feet in the house where there are no sharp objects to step on (hopefully) and allow the skin to toughen, then try it outside.
I do hope that someone does some research on this to see what the results have been for others. I sure would be interested.
Ellen J.

Re: runningbarefoot website

Ellen J. on 3/17/03 at 17:00 (113239)

I checked out the 'runningbarefoot' website and it appears that the correct link address is runningbarefoot.org (not .com). In case anyone else is looking for this site, try the above address and see if you discover the same thing. It is an interesting site.
Ellen J.