Do you hobble out of bed every day because your feet hurt so much to step on first thing in the morning? Or are your feet too painful to walk on if you’ve been sitting for several hours and then try to get up and walk? It could be plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain in adults. It is caused by a strain of the ligaments in an area of the foot called the plantar fascia. This is a thick, pearly white tissue with long fibers that begins at the heel bone and then fans out along the under surface of your feet to the toes. The ligament provides support as the toes bear the body’s weight each time the heel rises during walking.
As you know, our poor feet have to withstand a great deal of strain each day as we walk on them, run on them, stand all day, or squeeze our feet into uncomfortable shoes.
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain beneath the heel and sole of the foot, but the pain can be felt anywhere along the underside of the feet. The pain is usually worst when initially stepping onto your feet, particularly when first getting out of bed in the morning or when getting up after sitting for some time.
Fortunately there is a lot that can be done about this common condition.
Who is most at risk of plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is most common in runners, but can occur in anyone and there are several other risk factors, including:
- Wearing incorrectly fitting or inappropriate running shoes
- Running on excessively hard or unstable surfaces
- Weakness in the muscles of the feet
- Having flat feet
- Being overweight
- Having high arches
- Having excessively high levels of inflammation in your body due to poor diet (eg. high in sugar) or immune system problems
The conventional treatment of plantar fasciitis involves rest, icing, stretching, taping, the use of anti inflammatory medication, weight loss, physiotherapy, stretching and correction of footwear and biomechanical imbalances, such as the use of orthotics. Cortisone injections are sometimes used in unresponsive cases, although they are usually not very effective.
Foot biomechanical issues are certainly important to address, however it is also critical to address internal factors.
If your body is highly inflamed, it’s not surprising that the ligaments in your feet would also be inflamed. Systemic inflammation can be caused by several factors; the most common ones include poor diet, immune system disorders (allergies or autoimmune disease), chronic infections, diabetes and obesity (fat cells manufacture inflammatory chemicals), and having a fatty liver.
The most significant factor is diet.
Certain foods significantly raise inflammation in your body; these foods include gluten, wheat, sugar, alcohol, artificial additives, dairy products and any food you are allergic to. Getting rid of these foods from your diet can significantly reduce the level of inflammation in your body and, in that way, ease the pain in your feet.
Here are my recommendations:
- Base your diet on vegetables, salads, protein and healthy fats. Pastured (grass fed) meat, poultry and eggs are high in omega 3 fats and have an anti-inflammatory effect. Good fats also help to reduce inflammation and they include olive oil, macadamia nut oil, avocados, pastured ghee and coconut oil. There is an eating plan based on these guidelines in my book ‘Fatty Liver: You Can Reverse It’.
- Get rid of sugar, junk food and gluten from your diet. These foods irritate your immune system and promote the growth of harmful bugs in your digestive tract. They are also addictive and promote hunger and cravings. It is a lot easier to avoid those foods if you are eating adequate protein and healthy fats because they are so satiating. If you really struggle with sugar cravings, help to stabilize blood sugar and can make sticking to a healthy diet much easier.
- You may want to try Serrapeptase. This is a natural enzyme with a powerful anti-inflammatory effect in the body. It basically acts like Pac Man to clean up cellular debris in your body. In this way it reduces swelling and pain. It is gentle on the stomach and, in fact, needs to be taken on an empty stomach for maximum benefits.
- Glutathione is another anti-inflammatory substance but this one is made in your own body. It helps to mop up free radicals and in that way protect the tissues of your body from wear and tear or damage. Many people don’t produce enough glutathione because they don’t ingest sufficient levels of the building blocks required for its production. Glutathione is made from the amino acids glycine and cysteine, which are present in protein rich foods such as red meat (particular the skin and joints), seafood, poultry and eggs. Selenium is also required for glutathione production and many people don’t get enough of this vital mineral in their diet. provide selenium as well as other nutrients to improve energy and stamina.
- Find out if you have a food allergy or intolerance. If you continually eat a food your body is not able to tolerate, it places an enormous strain on your immune system and leads to elevated inflammation. You may need the help of a naturopath to work this one out.
- Drinking raw vegetable juice is a fantastic way to lower inflammation. Try to use a variety of vegetables and the more vibrantly colored, the better. Ginger, pineapple and turmeric are particularly anti-inflammatory.
Painful feet are an incredibly common problem that can be very frustrating. These recommendations should help, but please see your own doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.