Holistic Health: Long Hike to a Simple Remedy

Cortisone shots or exercise? Lucy gets religion (in a fancy Alabama shoe “shoppe.”)
by Lucy Beale

On a tight deadline for my latest book last summer, I wrote daily, wrapping my legs and feet oddly and intensely around my chair. I did this for months, all the time feeling that deadline looming. When my foot ligament finally tightened to the max, I couldn’t walk for the pain. And I certainly couldn’t hike, not even the casual stroll around the lake at Brighton.

My chiropractor took one look at my swollen foot, said I had plantar fasciitis, and suggested I see a podiatrist. Later that day, the podiatrist gave me a cortisone shot, told me there was no way to improve the condition, and said I’d need more shots. His staff cheerfully invited me to schedule my next appointment for one more of those shots. I declined.

The shot did help. However, my foot still hurt. Wrapping it with athletic tape let me walk with more comfort.

Late August in Sedona, Arizona, I splurged on a foot reflexology massage. Aahhh! I left with the recommendation to massage my foot with arnica oil daily and in six months my foot could be all better. Back home in Utah I started seeing Valerie Litchfield, a reflexologist/sacral cranial massage therapist. She soon had me walking comfortably again.

But on a trip to San Francisco in October, I walked and walked and the foot pain returned. I walked into the Merrell store on Union Square, purchased a pair (very comfortable shoes), and started wrapping my foot with athletic tape again. This got me through two more days of walking all over the city without tears.

Then, later that month I walked into The Gallery, a small, elegant shoe store-more of a “shoppe”-in Mobile, Alabama. One chatty customer mentioned how exercises had improved her heel spurs caused by plantar fasciitis. Within minutes, she and the “shoppe” owner were demonstrating foot stretches to me.

I felt sort of stupid for not researching exercises earlier, but later that day, on my iPhone, I found more exercises that really work to improve this painful condition.

The exercise that I resist the most-in other words, the exercise my foot needs the most-is stretching my upper back thighs in numerous challenging positions. If you have plantar fasciitis or heel spurs, find the exercise your body resists the most and it’s most likely the one that will ultimately give you the best results. Ouch, then aahhh.

I also used a wellness technique I learned some years ago in Colorado called Body Rolling. www.yamunabodyrolling.com. A couple foot sessions at home rolled out the remaining pain. (As of two months ago, Utah has its first certified body rolling practitioner, Nathalie Chanut.)

Here’s what I now know: that lots of folks have foot pain-it’s quite common. It visits men and women of any age, though apparently is more common among the “middle”-aged. Bad shoes, overweight and (as in my case) physical stress are typical causes.

That foot reflexology/sacral cranial massage offers fabulous benefits and feels so good that this luxury quickly becomes a necessity. I can’t give it up.

That exercise and stretching can heal what I messed up-at least this time.

Speaking of exercise: Simple, common exercises can help your feet stay healthy and strong in the first place. (Try the calf/heel stretch on stairs, or the downward facing dog pose of any yoga class.)

All this makes me forever grateful to exercise. And to all the healing coaches along my hike to healing.

Idiot’s Guide Glycemic Index Cookbook” (available in bookstores this month). She lives in Sandy, Utah. www.Lucybeale.com; lucybeale-weight-loss.blogspot.com