Plantar Fasciitis

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Everyone recommends never going barefoot if you have PF. However, I find that the only time I am pain-free, or nearly so, is going barefoot. Any kind of shoe makes the pain worse. When I do wear shoes, the recommended type (elevated heel, lots of arch support) are much more painful than the "bad" type (flat, thin soles, little or no arch support and cushioning). Has anyone else had this experience? Would I be damaging my foot more in the long run by going barefoot or wearing very minimal shoes as much as possible, even though it feels better for now? Can the "recommended" shoes actually be good for me if they cause more pain?

Tags: barefoot, shoes

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Your shoes are probebly tight and squizz your feet when your wearing them, going barefoot is very bad for your feet, especially if you have high or low arches.
Thanks for your reply. You're right that shoes that squeeze the feet can cause problems for me, and my foot is a little wide. In fact, I've sent back several pairs of shoes recently that seemed to put too much pressure on the tops or sides of my feet, and then either got larger sizes, ordered men's versions which were wider, or tried a different style.

I don't think that's the problem though in my comparisons with barefoot. I've tried a number of different shoes that are definitely plenty long and plenty wide. The various shoes I've tried have been (with the exception of the heel pain) comfortable in general and I'm normally very sensitive to anything squeezing in around my feet too much. I don't think I could wear shoes that were any larger or wider without them falling off my feet.

I'm trying to understand why everyone says that barefoot is so bad and how it might harm my feet, so if you have any links to research and that kind of thing I'd really appreciate it. I don't feel comfortable going against what all the experts say, but then again I also don't want to keep having pain, either! Thanks.
Hi, I'm new here but I've had foot pain as far back as I can remember, in gradeschool and on up into adulthood, and I agree with you going barefoot on soft floors always feels better to me too. I have PF, heel spurs, high arches, high insteps, and in general an oddly shaped foot. Finding shoes that fit is really hard, I have purchased a shoe stretcher a couple of years ago to help widen my shoes where necessary, I have tried custom orthotics and OTC orthotics and had little luck. The custom orthotics are great for about 6 months, after that they are smooshed flat and fairly useless. I wonder too if going barefoot is the right thing to do, on soft floors like padded carpeting it's wonderful, I've always taken off my shoes as soon as I got home and run around barefoot outside too, but I can't go barefoot to work, or really anywhere in public. On hard floors like wood, tile, or linoleum however my heels start hurting in no time, but I love carpeting! :)
Hi Leah, Thanks for responding. Yes, I do the same thing and take my shoes off as soon as possible when I get home, and the (fairly thin) carpeting feels great. Glad to hear I'm not the only one. I don't have too much heel pain on hard floors barefoot (still not as much as with any shoes or inserts I've tried). But I think I tend to walk differently when I'm barefoot and not strike down on my heel so hard, so that could be why. I can't really go barefoot outside much since I'm in the middle of Los Angeles, and you don't even want to know the kind of stuff that's on the sidewalks and streets here! But I do occasionally go outside to take out the trash and things like that barefoot, and even on the concrete sidewalk it feels better barefoot than with shoes. Can't go barefoot at work, either, although I take my shoes off at my desk when I can. I've been considering trying some "minimalist" shoes that supposedly are more like going barefoot, like the Vibram Five Fingers (which look supremely silly) or the Feelmax. The Feelmax look more like normal shoes and could "pass" in a casual office environment. They have a super-thin sole made out of a very tough material to prevent things from poking through and cutting your foot. I'm thinking of ordering some to try out, but they are from Finland and a little hard to find here in the US. If I end up trying some of these I'll post to let you know how it works out. And please do the same if you find any shoes that work for you. My foot's a little wide also and I think I have one arch that is higher than the other, so I generally end up a size bigger in shoes than I would need just based on length. Maybe that's why it's better going barefoot, maybe shoes just never fit both feet correctly and that causes me to walk "funny" and aggravate the PF.

I did just post at another PF related board where doctor's often respond and I asked about going barefoot and whether it could hurt me worse in the long run. The doctor who responded basically said that if the PF pain was better going barefoot, and no other pain started up, then it shouldn't do any harm and that it would be OK to keep doing that unless the pain started up or got worse again.

Have you tried any of the stretches that are usually recommended for PF? I do find that those seem to help also.

Also, if you haven't already, you might try some men's shoes. In sneakers and hiking/walking type shoes, there's not much difference in the styling for many of them. Not exactly super-stylish or dressy, but fine for casual use or with jeans. The men's shoes tend to run wider for the same length, although you'd have to order a size or two down from your normal size in women's shoes. I sometimes find them to be more comfortable and fit my feet better. For example, I'm typically a 9 in US women's size, but a 7.5 in the same or a similar men's style is often more comfortable due to extra width. Sometimes to get enough width in a women's size, I have to go up to a size that is definitely too long for my foot. Good luck!
JanetM said:
Hi Leah, Thanks for responding. Yes, I do the same thing and take my shoes off as soon as possible when I get home, and the (fairly thin) carpeting feels great. Glad to hear I'm not the only one. I don't have too much heel pain on hard floors barefoot (still not as much as with any shoes or inserts I've tried). But I think I tend to walk differently when I'm barefoot and not strike down on my heel so hard, so that could be why. I can't really go barefoot outside much since I'm in the middle of Los Angeles, and you don't even want to know the kind of stuff that's on the sidewalks and streets here! But I do occasionally go outside to take out the trash and things like that barefoot, and even on the concrete sidewalk it feels better barefoot than with shoes. Can't go barefoot at work, either, although I take my shoes off at my desk when I can. I've been considering trying some "minimalist" shoes that supposedly are more like going barefoot, like the Vibram Five Fingers (which look supremely silly) or the Feelmax. The Feelmax look more like normal shoes and could "pass" in a casual office environment. They have a super-thin sole made out of a very tough material to prevent things from poking through and cutting your foot. I'm thinking of ordering some to try out, but they are from Finland and a little hard to find here in the US. If I end up trying some of these I'll post to let you know how it works out. And please do the same if you find any shoes that work for you. My foot's a little wide also and I think I have one arch that is higher than the other, so I generally end up a size bigger in shoes than I would need just based on length. Maybe that's why it's better going barefoot, maybe shoes just never fit both feet correctly and that causes me to walk "funny" and aggravate the PF.

I did just post at another PF related board where doctor's often respond and I asked about going barefoot and whether it could hurt me worse in the long run. The doctor who responded basically said that if the PF pain was better going barefoot, and no other pain started up, then it shouldn't do any harm and that it would be OK to keep doing that unless the pain started up or got worse again.

Have you tried any of the stretches that are usually recommended for PF? I do find that those seem to help also.

Also, if you haven't already, you might try some men's shoes. In sneakers and hiking/walking type shoes, there's not much difference in the styling for many of them. Not exactly super-stylish or dressy, but fine for casual use or with jeans. The men's shoes tend to run wider for the same length, although you'd have to order a size or two down from your normal size in women's shoes. I sometimes find them to be more comfortable and fit my feet better. For example, I'm typically a 9 in US women's size, but a 7.5 in the same or a similar men's style is often more comfortable due to extra width. Sometimes to get enough width in a women's size, I have to go up to a size that is definitely too long for my foot. Good luck!
I got injured using Fivefingers shoes. I like them, but I went too hard too soon. If I had slowly built up my strength I wouldn't be hurt. Just be careful if you get the Fivefingers.
Lyle, sorry to hear you got hurt and thank you for the warning. If I may ask, did you get hurt running in the Fivefingers or just wearing them around walking? And what kind of injury did you sustain? Hope you are improving now and feeling better.
Hi Janet. Sorry for the delay. I got hurt running in my fivefingers shoes. I ran too much too soon. Had I stuck to going just a mile or two once a week for awhile I think I would have been OK. Walking shouldn't hurt. I also overused my calf muscles and achilles tendons. I think I have a case of PF. I went to a chiropractor recommended to me by Kay Warren. He adjusted my back and hips (which were issues a couple of years ago) and my feet. Then on Friday he used a laser treatment. So far I'm still sore from it, but it's to be expected. I may have to do a couple more treatments to see what happens. He seems confident I will heal soon.

JanetM said:
Lyle, sorry to hear you got hurt and thank you for the warning. If I may ask, did you get hurt running in the Fivefingers or just wearing them around walking? And what kind of injury did you sustain? Hope you are improving now and feeling better.
Sorry for the delay in replying. Yes, it is definitely plantar fasciitis will the classic symptoms. I've found out that there are other people that are also helped by going barefoot or in "near barefoot" type shoes. From my research, I believe that there are different causes of PF, even though the symptoms may be the same, and therefore different "fixes" that help different people.

In my own cases, I am an "under-pronator" (I tend to walk on the outside edges of my feet) when I have shoes on, which is exactly the opposite of the majority of people who are either over-pronators (who tend to walk on the inside edges of their feet) or who have a neutral gate. That may be part of the reason why going barefoot is different for me than for others. Now that I've been going barefoot or wearing very minimalist shoes for a couple of weeks, my severe pain (which was only getting worse prior to that) is nearly gone.

I'm sure this isn't valid for everyone, but I don't think everyone should demand that people never go barefoot with PF, because it's obviously not a bad thing for everyone. The bottom line is, if it hurts don't do it! Otherwise, as in my case, might as well try it and see if it helps.
Have you read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall? In the book, he has plenty of evidence to suggest that going barefoot is not bad. Why would God give us bad feet when for thousands of years before ours, people didn't have cushioned shoes. Our feet our strong on their own, we just need to strengthen them. I am working on going 'barefoot' but using those boot gloves for minimal protection. My foot has been 'pampered' in Nikes for all their life, so to get my natural foot strength back, I have to go slowly with the barefoot thing. I will let you know how it goes.

First off, because this thread is so old I am not sure if anyone will read it, but anyway. I am a shoe salesman, who loves going barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes as much as possible. Today at work I talked to a woman with PF, tried to figure out what type of shoes felt good for her and what she was looking for. None of the "normal" shoes I showed her were really comfortable (including Asics and New Balance). She really liked here shoes with the rolly ball heel thing, sorry I don't sell these so I don't know exactly what they are called. It turns out the reason she likes these shoes is because they don't have an arch to them, they are just soft. Now from what I have read PF is mostly caused by your plantar fascia tendon and achilles tendon not stretching enough, which is what happens when you wear shoes that elevate your heel and don't allow your arch to compress like it should when you walk. That's why when you get up in the morning and step out of bed your feet just about kill you, you are stretching them for the first time that day. But as your tendons begin to stretch the way they are supposed to, your PF should subside. And like someone posted earlier, you will tend to walk differently when you are barefoot than when your wear shoes. As a result your hit your heel less hard and your plantar fascia tendon flexes more. Just don't jump straight into going barefoot. Going from "normal" shoes to barefoot is EXACTLY like any other workout, you must build up your routine over time. I hope this information will help someone. Just remember, I am a footwear salesman not a podiatrist.

Later,

Adam

Ryka makes only women's shoes-=sneakers, and they come with larger toe box and are much more comfortable than any other sneaker., and they have good arch support, although I've always worn orthotics in them (as directed by my foot ortho)  I"ve been wearing them for about 7 years, replacing old worn out pairs with new ones as required.

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