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Cured with vibrating footbath.

Posted by Dave M on 5/21/03 at 09:34 (119494)

I had PF for about ten months and was referred by a doctor to physical therapy. I could not walk more than 50 yards a day without having to begin walking on the ball of the foot. In physical therapy I was subjected to the same intense stretching exercises I had been doing including the severe 'stairstep stand' which really rips at the bottom of your foot. I quit after two sessions since I wasn't getting better and it was $175/visit. I was considering getting the lithotriptor type zapper done but I am generally against radical procedures.. Then I read a lot of advice on heelspurs.com. What made the most sense was advice from the 'yoga lady' (I can't remember her name) that advised against weight bearing stretching and other articles that advised that this was a circulation and healing problem, not a stretching problem.
I began the yoga type stretches and used a vibrating warm water footbath with infrared heat for about an hour every morning. I am not mentioning the brand here because I see a lot of questionable entries that just happen to mention some miracle product. I would vibrate my feet in water as hot as I could stand then put my PF heel up on the infrared light to heat it for about ten minutes. I discontinued weight bearing stretches, a night splint and anything that I thought would hurt the foot. I used three quarter length heel risers in my shoes and tried not to walk too much. I used no pills or ointments.
After a few weeks I was much better. After about 5 weeks I started to play full court basketball again three times a week, but only for about 15 minutes. The foot was weak when I started and it took about three months to build up the foot and my general stamina to play everyday for about 45 minutes, spread over 1.5 hours. I have been back playing now for about five months and use the footbath only occasionally, when I have overstressed the foot the day before. At 60, I shouldn't be playing five days a week but I can't help it.
Thanks to the people at heelspurs.com and those that contribute to the site.

Re: Cured with vibrating footbath.

john h on 5/21/03 at 15:08 (119535)

Julie was and is the 'yoga lady'. She is currently on sabattical. She would be pleased to hear of your success.

Re: Cured with vibrating footbath.

Dorothy C. on 5/21/03 at 18:01 (119551)

I second the good wishes on your great improvement. I like the thinking behind the methods used. I do wish you would mention the brand because I have not seen an item like you describe. So, I am requesting that you mention the brand and where one can be purchased. Thanks.

Re: Footbath brand and more notes

Dave M on 5/22/03 at 08:03 (119601)

Mine is a Homedics VibraSpa(tm) Luxury Foot Spa with infrared heat. Customer service email (email removed). I got mine at one of the big drug chains, CVS I think. I filled mine with fairly hot water and put my feet in it from a sitting position on a towel to keep the floor dry. It has a roller with bumps on it called an Acupressure Roller that I tried but it was uncomfortable to use so I just removed it. The machine provides some heat to the water but it cools down after a while which is fine. Then I put my foot over the infrared light for a while. There are fancier types of these machines with bubbles, etc. but I havn't tried them. I think the vibration and warm water are what get the circulation going.
In addition to the machine, I did some of the yoga type stretches and used a tennis ball under the spur a few times but mainly that was hit and miss. I used the machine religiously every morning for about an hour. I DID NOT do any weight bearing stretches and I don't do any now, even before playing intense full court basketball. I went back to playing a little after about five weeks on the machine. The foot got better as the foot got stronger by using it hard for short periods. I don't know if the foot would have gotten that much better had I continued just the foot bath without playing on it some. I think the playing helped. When I went back to playing, BOTH my feet were sore from strain and weakness I guess, not particularly in the PF area, but other places as well.
I tried to find all the information I could regarding therapies for PF. Almost all, I'd say 98%, recommended that you combine intense stretching with other therapies such as splints, medicine, heat, cold, etc. etc. ad infinitum. I tried this stretching approach for 10 months and it failed miserably and I could hardly walk. I HAD to ask myself one question: 'Does it make any sense to stretch and strain an already sore and irritated part?' My answer was no. To me it made more sense to go gentle, babying and increasing circulation to the injury so my body could heal itself. I switched to the machine and it worked.

Re: Footbath brand and more notes

Ellen J. on 5/22/03 at 11:41 (119652)

Thanks for mentioning the foot bath, Dave. I agree that intense stretches just serve to injure the area even more and I discovered the same thing when I did too much stretching. I'm so glad you are feeling better!!
Thanks also for telling us which brand you used. I think quite a few people will want to try it, and even if it doesn't work for everyone it's still alot less expensive to try than an appt. with the wrong doctor. (which most of us have experienced)
Ellen J.

Re: Footbath brand and more notes

Dorothy C. on 5/22/03 at 13:17 (119663)

Thank you so much for the detailed, useful information. It is clear that you have given this intelligent thought and I appreciate your insights. Thank you again.

Re: Cured with vibrating footbath.

Leon S. on 5/25/03 at 16:02 (119892)

Dave,
I also had good results from using the footbath massager. Mine was from Brookstones and it has the massage, heat (minimal) and bubbles. I also agree that the non weight bearing stretches that are frequently mentioned here as the 'Julie stretches' have had a healing affect. The other major factor in getting me back to my regular running regimen has been the taping system that is also described here...Judging by the circumstances you described regarding your healing process and what level of activity you are up to, I think we are fortunate to not have had the same degree of difficulty that many of the posters here suffer from. I too, took whatever advice I thought would work for me, used some common sense and was lucky enough never to have gone to a doctor. Each Sunday morning, I tape up my left foot, use an OTC cushined donut in my shoes, plug in my running tapes and enjoy a rewarding 7-8 mile run over various routes in central N.J. I'm a few years older than you and can understand the psyche that makes you want to continue playing. I never enjoyed the running as much as when I came back after an 8 month layoff because of my foot problems...Good luck with your continued recovery.

Re: Taping

Dave M on 5/26/03 at 15:27 (119964)

Thanks for reminding me about tape Leon. I do tape the bottom of my foot lightly before playing. I used three pieces from the front (just up to the toes) up the back of the heel. Lately I've been using just one piece then another in a Y shape to save tape. I don't use tape at all unless playing basketball. At first I tried the extensive taping system described on one of the sports injury pages that said to wrap around the foot also and use many pieces on the bottom. I found that this caused me to get blisters and circulation problems because the tape was sometimes too tight, sometimes would bunch up and cause blisters, etc.
Leon, I think that by sheer brilliance (or blind, dumb luck, I'm not sure which) we've found the key to managing PF, for us at least. I think if I would have continued the severe stretching routine recommended my a doctor and two physical therapists, I would still be hobbling around in pain.
Good luck with your running.