Plantar fasciitis can be a frustrating condition to suffer from when it comes to foot pain. On some days it’s severe enough to prevent you from going to work, and yet other days you feel like it has completely resolved. Some will limp for months before seeing a doctor and then not respond to long term treatment consisting of shoe gear changes and orthotics.
Our practice approach has been much different over the past several years, and we are now starting to see this trend become more mainstream as the approach is being studied and used in treating more than just heel pain. By removing your shoes and strengthening the foot you can help resolve the pain from this “overuse” condition that is basically a tendonitis of the muscles in the foot that originate on the heel. I blogged about this study published last year which demonstrates the effects strengthening the foot can have on resolving heel pain.
Barefoot drills and exercises that strengthen the foot, increase ankle flexibility and improve gait patterns are working their way into gym workouts. Olympic runners use them to groove their gait pattern. The elderly use them to prevent falls. All ages use them to rehab nagging knee and hip pain.
Justin Sandherr, 30, a private wealth manager from Atlanta, uses barefoot exercises like spreading the toes wide and lifting and lowering the big toe and pinky independently and simultaneously to eliminate knee pain from a 6-year-old injury. “Regular weights don’t stabilize my knee joint like the barefoot methodology does. There’s a direct correlation: Work the feet, no more knee pain. I won’t play basketball or snowboard unless I’ve been working my feet.”
Retired teacher Susi Erwin, 66, an active skier, runner and two-time cancer survivor from Denver, says she used to fall a lot and once shattered a hip bone. For seven years she has been taking barefoot aerobics classes that start with six minutes of foot and ankle drills.
“It’s not an age thing. I’m fit, but I’m a klutz,” Erwin says. “Now I don’t trip anymore. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I fell.”
Sandherr and Erwin both take classes designed by Stacey Lei Krauss, the founder of the Willpower Method, which has 1,000 certified instructors across the country. The functional-fitness classes often begin with foot strengthening and flexibility exercises, such as toe-tapping or spreading the toes.
Source: Barefoot running may be over, but here’s why barefoot training is still smart – LA Times