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"Heels Down"- long term foot issues?

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  • "Heels Down"- long term foot issues?

    I'm curious to find out from anyone here on COTH if they have experienced long-term foot pain issues due to problems such as plantar fasciitis or plantar fibromas?

    OK, let me put that into more comprehensible form. I am approaching the half-century mark (big gulp), and have started having foot problems.

    A few years ago, I had serious problems with severe pain in the arch of the foot which resolved with rest and anti-inflammatories. Now, I've found small tender lumps in the ball and arch area of my foot. Everything I've researched says that these are due to previous trauma.

    (And yes, I'm in the process right now of researching a good foot doctor to have this professionally diagnosed and treated.)

    I suspect a HUGE contributing factor to be the stress on the plantar ligament (the ligament that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot) due to decades of driving my heel down while riding.

    Other root causes could also include wearing high heels when I was younger/dumber, standing on concrete floors for hours and days at a time when demanded by work, and running and jumping for recreational sports. But none of these has been as consistent and long-term as riding.

    So, oh you great and experienced COTHers: any other sufferers out there? Any words of wisdom or warning?

    For more information on either condition: (note: these references were chosen only for clarity of explanation)

    "She still had all of her marbles, though every one of them was shaped funny and rolled asymmetrically."

  • #2
    Ain't the half century mark grand? I feel fortunate to have gotten here and still be able to ride.

    I always found my plantar fascitis got better when I did the necessary achilles and calf stretches prior to riding. And when they hurt, I iced them. I figured part of the reason was the hours every day I spend standing and walking on concrete floors in the workplace, not the hour or so a day I spend in the saddle.

    I've never been one to force my heels down, but they naturally go that way when one is in two point.
    I did start using orthotics, just the $20 drug store kind, when my feet hurt and that does help, along with the stretches and ice. I do put extra foam insoles in all my shoes and riding boots- don't know if it helps, but I like the cushy feel.

    I have huge heel spurs on x-ray and they've been there at least 20 years, but they rarely hurt. My doc figures they should hurt more, but since they don't, I don't worry about them.
    "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


    • #3
      I used to have plantar fasceitis...a special treat the first steps in the morning.

      I called the Kaiser help nurse. She asked 3 simple questions:

      1. You need to lose weight? Yes mam.
      2. You need to get more exercise? Yes mam.
      3. You keep wearing the same shoes because they're comfy? Yes mam.

      So...I buy new daily walking around shoes every 6 months, lost weight and am exercising more...no plantar problems at all.

      The big thing, new shoes with support. High heels tend to cause tendon problems.
      "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"


      • #4
        I have had this problem for years, and have been told that weight gain combined with impact related activities (walking running etc.) are stressors, along with fashionable but foot unfriendly shoe styles. If I stretch before I ride, riding helps, doesn't hurt. I never get my heel as 'down' as I'd like, but relative to the tightness in my gastrocnemius and achilles tendon, my position isn't terrible.

        I have good orthotics from a podiatrist, but never use 'em when I ride, cuz they are so bulky they don't fit in boots. But my paddocks are nicely arch supportive, so I don't get sore feet at the barn, or even standing and walking all day at a show.

        Stretch stretch and more stretching. Do it BEFORE you even get out of bed in the a.m., according to my physical therapist. It helps.
        I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
        I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09


        • #5
          I have had PF for a long time, but had a flare up that sent me yesterday for the lovely cortisone shots.
          Just curious has anyone found a supplement that can help with this??? we do so much for equine lameness, and a heel is basically structured like a hock, so any one try anything?
          I have orthotics, and answered yes to all the above questions, and see a podiotrist already. My orthotics that hery made for me 3 years ago, passed their inspection yesterday, so I don't need new ones.
          to err is human, to whinny, Equine.
          Ebay-aholic! Carolina clique, BITS AND BARTER BOARD BUDDY
          EYEGLASSES MISSIONS FOR ARMENIA-send me your old glasses!


          • #6
            I have PF also, and I'm only 22. I hadn't really thought about it being riding-related, I more or less summed it up to the fact that I work at a bar and regularly work 12 hour+ shifts running around on crappy concrete floors.

            I'm considering getting a pair of orthotics for my field boots, it sounds like a good idea.
            CRAYOLA POSSE - Olive Green
            Champions aren't born. They are built little by little, day by day, with patience and love for the art. -Nick Skelton


            • #7
              The most reliable thing I know is to stretch in the a.m. before you get out of bed. Seriously. Just lie there and flex your toes up and push heels down, and hold it. Use a belt or the tie from a bathrobe, run it under the balls of your feet, and gently flex upward.

              When it's bad, try to do non-impact exercise - biking was the best, in that regard. When mine was a serious problem, I wasn't riding yet, so I don't know what to say about that part.
              I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
              I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09


              • #8
                Try magnets. They work.


                • #9
                  What kind, Triplicate? I was just picturing myself with all my fridge magnets stuck all over my feet.!!! LOL!
                  no really got a brand you like?
                  Bartending, Retail, any standing job can lead to it, I had the reality check yesterday when my doc said you don't stretch before you ride do you? I sheepishly said no.....
                  to err is human, to whinny, Equine.
                  Ebay-aholic! Carolina clique, BITS AND BARTER BOARD BUDDY
                  EYEGLASSES MISSIONS FOR ARMENIA-send me your old glasses!


                  • #10
                    Another over 40 PF sufferer. Last spring it was so bad I could barely walk in the a.m. What helped: ultra sound and athletic therapy to break up the crunchy scar tissue. One of the most painful things I have ever done. As I am white knuckle gripping the table and perspiring from my upper lip the therapist hands me a tissue and says "don't worry, I've made football players cry."

                    Then I would go home and roll my feet on frozen water bottles.

                    This, coupled with orthotics (which really really limit my footwear choices..and this is sad since I used to love a beautiful pair of heels), stetching of the calf muscles and occasional anti-inflammatories ...did the trick.

                    When PF starts to kick I increase the stretching, add some icing and that now seems to keep it at bay

                    I actually found standing in the stirrups with heels down to be a really good stretch and even now I do it before I dismount so as to make the dismount less painful. And is still stetch every morning before getting out of bed, grab your toes and dorsi flex to stetch your arch before setting foot on the floor.

                    So my best advice is to find a good athletic therapist who is prepared to be aggressive in treating it.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Trakehner View Post
                      I used to have plantar fasceitis...a special treat the first steps in the morning.

                      I called the Kaiser help nurse. She asked 3 simple questions:

                      1. You need to lose weight? Yes mam.
                      2. You need to get more exercise? Yes mam.
                      3. You keep wearing the same shoes because they're comfy? Yes mam.

                      So...I buy new daily walking around shoes every 6 months, lost weight and am exercising more...no plantar problems at all.
                      Well, I have to say I think the Kaiser nurse might want to ask a *few* more questions since PF is one of the most common injury to runners, so questions 1 & 2 might not apply. I have had PF for several years and it definitely started from running [trail running, specifically, so uneven terrain and increased miles all at the same time...stupid, stupid] but I think riding exacerbates it. I am contemplating the cortisone shots....but have been avoiding it. I did just get two new pairs of my *old* favorite running shoes so hoping they might help; at least help not to make it worse.


                      • #12
                        I am only 30 and am a professional trainer and have had PF problems. For me it is definatly not associated with the amount of riding that I do but the quality of shoes that I wear, making sure that I replace the insoles when they start to break down, and having to walk on too much concrete. There have been times I have gotten out of bed in the morning and had to crawl on my hands and knees to the bathroom as it was too painful to walk on my feet, they felt like curled up claws, until I figured out what I was doing wrong.


                        • #13
                          I broke three long bones in one foot, jumping off a fence, maybe, many, many years ago.
                          Found six months later on x-rays, so they had healed as they could.
                          What has worked best to go pain free is, on the Dr's orders, wear hiking boots or something with a thick sole, like some athletic shoes and even riding boots have.

                          You may want to try that for a while and see if that helps, with soft inserts is even better.
                          As you say, first going to see a Dr. is your best bet.


                          • #14
                            A better ratio of fatty acids can help inflammation overall (though it's not a cure for PF, but good for joints in general).

                            The book INFLAMMATION NATION has a good overview of how high doses of fish oil and GLA (borage, primrose oils) help short circuit the body's production of inflammatory products in the same way that NSAIDS and other anti-inflammatory drugs work.

                            I personally think I got an unexpected side effect from taking fish and borage oil--my moods have really stabilized. I started taking them for stiffness and PF but the moods have improved over the past two years and timing suggests the fatty acids have benefitted me there too.

                            Basically I'm a lot less stiff overall and PF is ok unless I overdo.
                            Ring the bells that still can ring
                            Forget your perfect offering
                            There is a crack in everything
                            That's how the light gets in.


                            • #15
                              Yes- I think I get it because of running. I'll have a bit of pain after a run. The worst for me is to wear flats though. Ouch double ouch.

                              I have a really unorthodox way of dealing- after a hard run, I wear high heels the next day- a good heel like a wedge and a substantial sole. (umm, I work in an office). I think it must relieve some stress from those tendons.


                              • #16
                                I am 58 and teach PE on a concrete floor. Several years ago I had a lot of trouble. Once I got a cortizone shot...so painful, It worked for a long time. The next flair up my husband told me the managers of the factories he calls on started wearing Zcoil tennis shoes. I asked a podiatrist about it and he said he couldn't say yes or no to the shoes. However he did say he spoke to a dr. at the podiatrist convention. She said she was going to have to give up her practice because of fc. She bought the shoes and is doing fine. So...I bought a pair and sure enough after about 2 months no more pain. I have bought 2 pair in my life and had new springs put on one. I am fine now. Of course my general health and well being is a lot better now than in my early 50s. I do not wear the shoes anymore as they went up to about 200.00 a pair I believe. So as long as I am doing fine I will stick to good walking tennis shoes. But some day may have to get another pair. The podiatrist did say stretch those feet up before getting out of bed. Don't go barefoot, I love to go barefoot. I think the weight in the heel during riding is actually good for it.


                                • #17
                                  I have been riding for more than 47 years, with excellent instruction at the outset for the first 8 years and sporadically since, and almost always have my heels down, sometimes more so than others. I have not had any problems such as yours (my condolences by the way). I have however avoided high heels because I have known for a long time how harmful to the human back those things can be. I did take ballet lessons for 8 years growing up, including work en pointe (toe shoes), and also have not had the problems you mentioned. So, my off the cuff guess is that your other possible causes ("Other root causes could also include wearing high heels when I was younger/dumber, standing on concrete floors for hours and days at a time when demanded by work, and running and jumping for recreational sports") are much more likely to be the culprits. Good luck!
                                  RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


                                  • #18
                                    I only have foot problems when I wear shoes that don't have arch support. Arch support foot pads that you can get at the grocery store work fine, but the best ones I've found get heated in the oven (or on the dashboard of the car on a hot day ) and conform to your feet. So.. I'm fairly sure that riding isn't the cause and doesn't make it worse... might even make it better.


                                    • #19
                                      I'm pregnant and have just started having foot pain. My doctor told me yesterday that I have low arches and should look into orthotics, but I'm hoping I can make do with the cheaper insoles at the pharmacy.

                                      I've never thought of this as riding-related, although I guess it's possible. I get a lot of ankle pain when riding with shorter stirrups, so I try to go as long as possible.

                                      My foot pain extends all the way up my legs and feels more like fatigue from exercise, but I'm not exercising all that much. I'm only 4 months pregnant and have gained about 10 lbs, so I don't think it's a weight issue either.

                                      I think, though, that after reading this thread I'll try to ride stirrupless -- at least while I'm suffering from foot pain and try to relax my ankle more.

                                      Can anyone recommend a brand of footwear that provides good support? Preferably something dressier and not a running shoe. What about riding boots? I usually wear Ariats, but my latest pair are a few years old and aren't all that comfy now.


                                      • #20
                                        Honestly, from everything I've heard from talking to doctors (I have arthritis in my feet, my mom has PF, so I've spoken to a lot of foot specialists) I would pretty much put the blame for any foot problems on the fact that the vast majority of shoes that are sold for 'fashion' are pretty poorly designed for feet. (I don't just mean high heels, either. I mean most garden variety inexpensive shoes. My podiatrist has an entire rant about the popularity of flip flops.)

                                        If your shoes don't fit right, it can lead to stressing the foot in ways it's not designed for. In addition, very few shoes have anything like decent arch support to start with - and then we wear them for a long time, so what support there might have been gets squished down and is no longer as effective.

                                        Even with lots of riding horses, you've probably still overall spent more hours on your own feet in bad shoes than you have on horseback with your heels down.

                                        What helps with my problems is: All my shoes have good arch support and are the right fit for my feet. (No squishing my feet into something too narrow for 'fashion'.) I also have more than one pair of daily wear shoes - even if you buy two pairs that are IDENTICAL, alternate pairs. It gives the various shock absorbing materials in the shoe and insole more time to recover. I prefer not to have identical shoes, though, as I've found that different shoes, even if they all fit well, stress my feet in slightly different places. So by alternating shoes from day to day, I can avoid repetitively irritating one specific area of my foot.