Running into trouble

What began as a fun goal crashed into a health issue that knocked me off my feet: My sister invited me to join her in a five-kilometer event to be held as part of our hometown’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities. While I’m not a runner, I’ve been working out fairly regularly at home and in DMU’s wonderful wellness center. And, hey, what healthy adult can’t handle completing such a relatively short distance?

So mid-February I cranked up the Foo Fighters on my iPod, strapped on my ear muffs and began running around the neighborhood. Or, I should say, I’d run for a minute or so and then would have to slow down to a brisk walk for a while. Then disaster struck: During a longer trek on a recent Saturday, my right heel began to hurt so much I was reduced to limping. By the time I got home, I couldn’t bear weight on that foot.

I won't be doing this any time soon.

That sent me straight to DMU’s Foot and Ankle the following Monday, where James Mahoney, D.P.M., FACFAS, and student-doctor Jeff Weber diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot, the plantar fascia, which occurs when the tissue is overstretched or overused.

The bad news: No 5K for me on St. Patrick’s Day. Walking, especially on stairs, is painful. And I’ll likely have to try some new-to-me cardio workouts, like using the elliptical machine as Dr. Mahoney suggested, to maintain my fitness.

The good news: Thank goodness for podiatric physicians! I left my Foot and Ankle appointment with an orthotic in my shoe that’s supporting my arch and cushioning my heel, which immediately eased my discomfort. I have instructions for a set of rehabilitation exercises and stretches, some of which I can do at my desk. And while I’m disappointed that the fussy conditions of my oversized, bunion-plagued feet mean I’ll likely never be a runner, I know I can continue to participate in the aerobic, spinning and strength-training classes I (try really hard to) enjoy. Once my foot is ready, that is.

By solving problems with people’s feet and lower limbs, podiatric physicians truly enhance their patients’ quality of life.

Since I’ve drawing some attention by hobbling around and wearing sneakers with my suits, I’ve learned that plantar fasciitis is very common – everyone who’s expressed sympathy has either had it or has had a family member so inflicted. Have you had this ailment? If so, what are your tips for treating it?

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