I first developed Plantar Fasciitis several years ago. It is a condition caused by pain and inflammation of the Plantar Fascia where it connects to the heel. The Plantar Fascia is a thick band of tissue that connects the toes to the heel.
The pain is most intense in the morning after getting out of bed or after sitting for a long time and then standing up. It typically improves with movement but the pain usually does not fully go away.
When I first found out what I had, I ordered heel inserts for my shoes. It took about two months but the problem finally went away and I put the inserts away in the closet just in case it came back.
A couple of years later it did come back and I dug out those heel inserts and started wearing them again. This time they did nothing. I gave it a couple of months like the first time but had zero results.
It should be noted here that I am not a health professional and nothing that you read here should be considered health advice. I am simply relaying my own personal story. Everyone is different and what works for one may not work for another.
I had read years earlier that feet need to be exercised and the best way to do that is to walk barefoot on uneven surfaces, like a beach. Unfortunately, it was not convenient for me, or most people for that matter, to take a walk on the beach every day.
I decided to do a little research and the more I read the more I realized that wearing shoes might actually be the cause of plantar fasciitis. There are a number of reasons for that. Shoes can be very constraining. They don’t allow our feet to move the way nature intended. They also tend to lift the heel higher than is natural and bend the toes upwards. In addition, people who grew up wearing shoes have learned to walk completely wrong. We have learned to walk by striking our heel to the ground first and then rolling the foot forward. This puts more pressure on the heel than it was designed to handle but because of the padding in the shoe, you don’t notice it.
At about the same time I was learning this I went to one of my regular chiropractor appointments. I was going for neck pain at the time but I did mention the heel pain to her. She told me I should buy more supportive shoes. I did not contradict her but I remember thinking that the information I was learning was something that even chiropractors don’t know.
I decided to do the opposite and go as close to barefoot as I could get away with. I found a company in Canada called The Bown Bear that sells traditional moccasins. These moccasins are not something you can buy at a typical shoe store. They are simply soft leather with no insole. They are probably the closest to barefoot you can get while still wearing “shoes.”
Buying moccasins was only the first step. I then had to train myself to walk the right way. It was a little hard at first because I had to think about each step that I took. I had to remember not to put my heel down first. Instead, I practiced placing my foot down with the ball of my foot hitting the ground at about the same time as my heel or even slightly ahead of my heel.
I tried to imagine how our primitive ancestors would have walked before foot coverings were invented. It’s probably easier to imagine if you just walk around outside in your bare feet for a while. If you walk around like you do with shoes, heal first, you will quickly regret it and adjust your foot placement accordingly.
Our modern world does complicate things somewhat. While our feet are perfectly designed for barefoot walking outside in a natural environment, they were not designed to walk on flat hard surfaces like concrete. Nevertheless, I still thought wearing the moccasins was worth a try.
I did make exceptions for a few things. I bought sneakers that were as flexible as I could find and wore those in situations where I might step on something sharp. I also noticed the moccasins have less traction than sneakers and were somewhat dangerous when walking across a parking lot in the rain. It turns out that the white lines are painted with something very slippery. Again, this is a problem that our ancestors did not have to deal with.
I probably went barefoot or wore those moccasins about 90% of the time when I was not home. I don’t remember exactly how long it took but in a relatively short period of time, maybe a couple of months, my heel pain was completely gone.
It has been about five years since I bought that first pair of moccasins and I have remained free of heel pain. I have bought several more pairs of moccasins since then and I continue to wear them as often as I can.
Our modern world has brought us many conveniences but it has also brought us many problems. I think it is always wise to look to Mother Nature for solutions to problems before seeking help from modern science. What do you think?