Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Happy Feet: Do You Have Them?

Image courtesy of mommywarriors.com

Today, I asked my mother Sharon to share with you about plantar fasciitis. She has dealt with this issue for the last six years now and it's caused her incredible mental and physical pain because it's stifled her ability to be active. I wanted to give her a platform to make others aware of what it is and how it can be avoided. Without further ado, my mother...


"I have been asked to write about feet. I hope that I can help to keep your feet happy. Mine have not been happy for 6 long years due to plantar fasciitis. Until I was diagnosed, I had no idea what plantar fasciitis was, but now that I have it, I know that it's a very common problem, especially as you age. Approximately two million Americans are diagnosed with it every year, and almost 10% of the US population will develop it at some point in their lifetime. 

Image courtesy of plantar-fasciitis-elrofeet.com
Plantar fasciitis can be caused by many things - being overweight (which I am not), wearing shoes that don’t support your feet properly, not stretching properly before exercise, overuse and many other causes. The plantar fascia is the ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch. Plantar fasciitis is what happens when the ligament becomes strained and starts to tear. The tiny tears in the plantar fascia can lead to swelling and varying degrees of pain. For me, the pain is so bad that I've had to discontinue some of my favorite activities - walking in the neighborhood with my best friend, working out on the elliptical or even walking or standing for long periods of time. It has truly affected my way of life.

Though there are treatments for plantar fasciitis, they are not guaranteed to work for everyone. My treatments have been unsuccessful thus far and I may have to resort to surgery (which may or may not help) if they continue to be non-responsive to other treatments.

I tell Lauren all the time that she needs to buy shoes that are more supportive. Ladies, of course heels look great on, but when you wear them consistently over time, you may very well be diagnosed with a condition like plantar fasciitis later on that affects your day to day life. I suggest staying away from heels as much as possible and making sure your shoes fit you correctly. Feet tend to swell as the day goes on, so it's best to buy shoes later in the day when your feet are at their largest.

Image courtesy of twylah.com
If my story isn't convincing enough, check out this article from the NY Times, explaining how heels change your anatomy: A Scientific Look at the Dangers of High Heels. The last few paragraphs give a great explanation as to how heels can affect you over time.

For a list of the proper shoes to wear, click here for the American Podiatric Medical Association's recommendations. My best piece of advice to avoid foot issues such as plantar fasciitis is to warm up slowly before you walk or run and make sure to stretch your calves and hamstrings.

Also, pamper your feet like you would any other part of your body. Occasionally soak them in Epsom salt and warm water, see a foot reflexologist for a nice foot rub or scrub them with exfoliating grains when you're in the shower. When you do these things, your feet will stay happy and give you a firm footing for your future."

Sharon Yarbrough is the best mother on earth - well, at least according to me. In addition to raising me and my brother Cale, Sharona (as we fondly call her) is an ACE-certified personal trainer and a sales rep for Juice Plus, a whole foods supplement (visit her site here). She has always been extremely active. She was a state-ranked swimmer in Georgia growing up, was on the very first University of Georgia women's swim team and continues to swim to this day. I have my mother to thank for instilling in me a desire to take care of myself through diet and exercise, and I tend to think that IF blogging had been around in her day, she would have beat me to the punch on this whole wellness blog thing.

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