Who would have thought such a simple activity could bring so much joy to an 11 year old? I had obviously run before in games of tag and hide and seek, but never before did I run for the mere pleasure of the constant, steady, flowing rhythm that it provided. I loved running so much that I began training for that fifth grade track meet by doing laps up and down, back and forth, on the dirt road in front of my dad's house. During this time, I told my dad I would no longer drink soda, because Mr. Hartmore, an avid runner himself, said it interfered with optimal running performance. He nodded and said OK. My dad was always one to support something for the sake of athleticism.
There you have it: I have been running for more than half my life - about 2/3 of it, if my math is correct. Naturally, when I became pregnant, I continued running. In fact, I ran 27 miles in a trail race and finished first female in my heat in a 7.5-mile obstacle mud run in below freezing temperatures during my first month of pregnancy. I maintained 30 to 40 miles per week during this first month.
Quickly, though, my speed took a nosedive. My typical 8:30 minute-per-mile pace during a four-mile 5:30 a.m. jog plundered by the second trimester (fourth, fifth, and sixth months) to a 13-minute-per-mile pace during a two-mile jog in the afternoon, because waking up with calf cramps halted any desire to lace up my running shoes pre-dawn. Maintaining my typical 7:22-minute-per-mile 5K race pace? Ha! Impossible! I was barley eking out seven miles per week. By my seventh month of pregnancy (third trimester) I quit running altogether, with only one month left til my baby would be born (he arrived one month early).
Despite only gaining 22 pounds throughout pregnancy and measuring just 36 inches around my belly, aches and pains prevailed during my ever-slowing jogs. I had to stretch for 30 minutes post-run to alleviate aggravated hips, knees, quads, calves and, most of all, feet. Piriformis syndrome crept in, and regardless of the drastic increase in pace and decrease in mileage and daily yoga, plantar fasciitis and a heel spur in the right foot emerged and still plagues me.
My typical running injury prevention and cures of rest, ice, elevation, ace bandages, acupuncture, deep tissue massage and yoga have not been enough to combat this injury. Thus, the purpose of this post is three-fold: one, to help plantar fasciitis and heel spur sufferers who cannot find relief in simple calf stretches, golf ball rolling, or the RICE formula ; two, to keep a record for myself of attempted healing methods for future reference; and, three, to encourage others with the same injuries to offer insight and stories via the comment board.
Of all the things I've tried (below you will see that they are many), Rolfing has proven the most effective. I read about it's healing benefits in Train Like a Mother: How to Get Across Any Finish Line - And Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea. Chronic SI joint pain had afflicted one of the authors for years, and after the standard 10 Rolfing sessions, the pain subsided completely. With a renewed sense of hope, I performed a google search on Rolfing. I found Michael Waller's contact information and booked an appointment. So far I've had two sessions. I was so overwhelmed with joy at the pain relief felt during the very first session that I almost cried. I didn't shed a tear, but I did give Michael a hug!
Here is a description from the official Rolfing web site: "Rolfing Structural Integration is a form of hands-on
manipulation and movement education developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf over 50 years ago. It works on the web-like
network of connective tissues, called fascia, to release, realign and balance the whole body, potentially resolving
discomfort, reducing compensations and alleviating pain. Rolfing SI aims to restore flexibility, revitalize your energy
and leave you feeling more comfortable in your body."
Most importantly, unlike all of the other therapies I've tried, the pain relief from Rolfing has stayed with me for more than two days. My first session was April 30 and second May 14, and I still feel the same amount of pain relief I felt that very first time. My body feels as if it is shifting, like plate tectonics, as Michael described it. These are the other results:
- I got into the car after the first session, examined my right foot, which has been swollen for more than year, and the inflammation was visibly reduced by about 90 percent.
- The tight bands of fascia that felt like wires ready to snap are now soft and pliable.
- My right hamstring and psoas muscles no longer have a tugging sensation.
- My calves, hips, quads, hamstrings and feet feel loose, light, and free.
- Range of motion has increased dramatically in all joints, especially my stiff ankles.
- I can put pressure on my right foot without shooting pain.
- I no longer walk on tiptoes to avoid heel pain.
- Sharp, shooting, constant pain has changed to dull, achy, sometimes pain.
- I feel taller, elongated, and less compression in the hip joints.
- I can walk around the house barefoot ALL DAY - I haven't been able to do this for a year.
- The freedom of movement and depth of poses experienced during yoga has increased significantly.
- I can run errands such as grocery shopping without having to tape my feet, wear compression socks, or apply ice afterward. I haven't grocery shopped for so long, leaving that errand to Eric, because the tiled floors would debilitate me for the rest of the day. Now I happily go to the farmer's market and grocery store, all while carrying my growing 18.6-pound, 10 1/2 month old baby boy!
- Household chores are easier, and I do not have to limit how many I do in a day, because my feet can take it!
- Holding Avie no longer causes searing foot pain. This alone has me sold on Rolfing.
Yes, Rolfing works. Yes, I recommend it. If you're in the Pittsburgh, PA, Columbus, OH, or Morgantown, WV, areas, call Michael Waller. He loves to work on athletes but sees all types of people. If elsewhere, find yourself a Rolfer today!
Following is a long list of other healing therapies I've tried. Some of them have been fantastic. Some have hindered progress. For the sake of brevity, I have not provided detailed descriptions of each method, but I will expound upon anything if you ask me. I'd love to hear about your experiences with running, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and pregnancy, or answer any questions you have.
Denotations: ***indicates something I still do daily; +indicates something I still do sometimes; x-indicates something that hindered progress.
- Drinking 1 tbsp of organic apple cider vinegar taken in a glass of warm water before breakfast and after strenuous activity to combat inflammation and dissolve heel spurs***
- Taking spirulina, turmeric and ginger capsules or adding the powder form to foods***
- Drinking alfalfa tea for it's high mineral content***
- Taking 1 tsp a day of Blue Ice Royal Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil to reduce inflammation (now a vegan, I do not take this anymore)
- Adding Aqua Lyte water enhancer to water and drinking daily for cellular healing***
- Taking the following homeopathic pellets: Arnica Montana 30x (general pain and inflammation); Silicea 12x (promotes bone healing); and Symphytum Officinale 30c pellets (promotes healing of bone trauma)+
Professional therapies (listed in order of what has been most effective):
- Rolfing (two session in two weeks - by far the most effective and pain relieving treatment)+
- Pulsating Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) mat***
- Cold laser therapy paired with acupuncture and foot massage
- Halo laser therapy paired with acupuncture
- Deep tissue massage
- Acupuncture by itself
External therapies with feel-good results:
- Soaking feet or taking a bath with Epson salts, sea salts and hydrogen peroxide for 20-45 minutes+
- Applying Arnica oil, gel or cream directly to both feet and heels+
- Applying magnesium oil to the bottoms of both feet***
- Applying lavender oil to the bottoms of feet***
- Wearing amber healing jewelry around both ankles***
- Applying ice+
- Rolling a golf ball along the bottom of the feet and heels+
- Wearing apple-cider-vinegar-soaked socks throughout the night (the pickled feet smell deters me from doing this too often - I think Eric and the baby appreciated when I decided to forgo this remedy!)
- Wearing a mustard seed/turmeric/black pepper compress wrapped around the feet (this is messy!)
- Taping the feet with kinesiology tape
Products that were worth the investment:
- Saucony Cortana running shoes+
- Running-specific compression socks+
- Plantar fasciitis sleeves by features!+
- Strassburg sock+
- Kitchen fatigue mats***
- Dr. Scholl's gel heel inserts+
Products that were NOT worth the money and that hindered healing:
- Pro Tec arch supports-x
- Superfeet shoe inserts-x
- Asics Gel Kayano running shoes - x - I'm not saying that this is a bad shoe, but for my type of foot, which has a naturally high arch, I do not need extra amounts of support or cushion, something I learned from the expertise of a professional runner at Morgantown Running, my local running store.
Activities that have helped with healing:
- Using my spinning bike (five times per week)+
- Pool running+
- Affirmations - based on Louise L. Hay's book Heal Your Body, I often repeat the affirmation, "I move forward in life with joy and with ease," a phrase related to healing foot pain+
- Listening to 432 hz healing music from youtube+
Will I run during my next pregnancy(ies)? Probably, but with more precaution. I'll wear my Saucony Cortanas, continue to receive rolfing treatments, do more run/walk intervals, resort to pool running in the latter months, and maybe even get a deep tissue massage every week (Eric, every day???)! It goes without saying that I'll do lots of yoga.
In the meantime, when will I return to running? The last time I ran was during a two-week period at the beginning of April, until my feet gave in to the pain. That was before rolfing. Before that time in April, it was the day after Christmas. I've watched races come and go. Many that I hoped to do happened in April. The next one I hope to do is in June. I'll let you know how my return to running goes. With rolfing at my side, I have a feeling it will be fabulous. Until next time, rolf on.