For standard information, try this Wikipedia article and for evidence-based advice, try the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence article
So, I "caught" Plantar fasciitis at the Chippenham Folk Festival at the end of May. I did a lot of vigorous ceilidh dancing mainly on a "wood" floor that probably had concrete a few mm down. By the time I got home, walking was extremely painful. I had already booked for two festivals in August so I needed to fix things fast. I have largely succeeded. Here's what I tried, my thinking and observations:
- I stopped walking 4km a day to work and drove. In fact I became a total couch potato.This was intended to reduce further damage and pain
- I bought into the theory that a contributing factor is an Achilles Tendon that's too tight which keeps the Plantar fascia too tight and did exercises to stretch it as per the NIHCE article.
- To protect the Plantar fascia, I used gel pads in my shoes
- I avoided walking barefoot
- I visited a physiotherapist. My choice was a local clinic that offered the minimum number of unproven trendy treatments. (I couldn't find anybody who didn't offer at least one bit of quackery!). The practitioner I saw seemed to share my love of evidence-based medicine and her knowledge of what did/didn't/might work matched my own reading. Perhaps the most important question I asked was: if I took pain killers, could I end up doing more damage? Her answer was basically "No" and that if I was doing damage, no analgesic I could buy would stop the pain.
- Based on this, I got in a supply of the strongest paracetamol and codeine tablets you can buy in the UK without a prescription. If I experienced pain when dancing, I took one plain paracetamol and if the pain persisted, I took one paracetamol/codeine mix.
- The above drug routine was largely successful although there were some surprises:
- In 7 nights, I only needed to get up to the full dose three times.
- The affects of two months of virtual inactivity showed. I was often stopped by other pains and shortage of breath
So I very tentatively suggest the following regime to Plantar fasciitis sufferers:
- Protect the heel against impact
- Exercise all the surrounding parts pretty vigorously
- Don't be afraid to use any pain killer that's otherwise safe for you.