Medical Massage Pros

Medical and Orthopedic Massage
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How I Reversed Plantar Fasciitis and Leg Pain By Changing My Footwear

I have worked many different jobs trying to find out what I wanted to do in life. I’ve been a mechanic, I’ve worked in asphalt construction, I’ve been a truck driver, worked in a couple of warehouses, and been a coal miner. Most of these jobs required steel toed boots and footwear that totally wrecked my feet.

Finally I started doing massage full-time and thought, “yes, my feet will finally have a break.” Boy was I wrong. Standing for anywhere from 8 to 12 hours a day on cement floors I think did the most damage in the form of flattening out my feet and giving me major plantar fasciitis.

I remember waking up in the mornings and getting out of bed and cringing as pain shot up my feet and into my legs. Even my carpeted floor caused my feet to hurt. And they would hurt all day. It got to the point where sometimes I would have to sit back on the bed it hurt so bad. I didn’t know what to do until I met a man named Reese Jones.

uttra running, marathon. St. George, run, zero drop, barefoot
Reese Jones finishing a marathon.

Reese is an ultra runner, meaning this guy runs extremely long distances. I’m talking races that require a runner to run 50 to 100 miles! (Surprisingly Reese is actually sane, haha!).

One day I was working with Reese and I started asking him about his footwear and what he thinks is helpful in helping a foot stay strong and keep its natural functions. You know me, always trying to find what really works in the real world. I was surprised by his answers, but they made sense.

Ancestral Wisdom

Reese talked to me about how our ancestors use to hunt animals for food anciently. They didn’t just shoot beasts with arrows, in fact before the bow became majorly popular humans would actually chase their prey on foot until they tired the beasts out. Then they’d slay them and eat them.

I asked him how a human could keep up with any wild animal and he shared how it wasn’t a matter of keeping up with the animal it was a matter of consistently chasing the animal that eventually led to our ancestors having a meal. And this chasing meant many miles being ran by humans who didn’t wear shoes, but had amazingly strong feet and legs most of their lives. Side tangent here, look at how many animals actually have a bum like a human. Only the equine (ex:horse) species has a bum similar to man and they’re built to run.

Reese explained the idea how nature has already perfected you and if you keep to how you are designed you’ll have better functionality and little to no chronic pain. This is where choosing the best footwear came in. And what did he recommend? Zero drop shoes and barefoot shoes.

Zero drop, bare foot
My Xero shoes. Notice that they have no lift to the sole and are completely flat.
Open toe box shoe
A much wider toe box for when the toes spread while stepping.

Look at the pictures of my barefoot shoes. I wear the Xero brand of barefoot shoes (and no I don’t get any commissions for sharing this brand). Reese explained that the foot is built in a way that keeps it spring-y and flexible. When you take a step your toes spread out which is important in keeping your feet strong. Also, while wearing a flat soled shoe your calves and foot arches get to work through their full range of motion which keeps them staying strong and healthy.

My Pain, Problems, and Reese’s Solutions That Actually Worked

I told Reese that I had very painful plantar fasciitis and that I wore shoes with arch support to help my feet. This is where I learned about my continuing structural degradation.

Anything that crutches, pads, or “supports” the body actually causes muscles to atrophy (shrink). If you’ve ever broken an arm and had it cast then you know that after the few months of healing the bone that the muscles were stiff, shrunk, and weak. Well shoes with arch support do the same thing. 

Think of an arch bridge, is it supported in the middle? No, it’s supported on the ends and that is exactly how our feet are built! When you “crutch” or pad the foot arch you actually require less work from the arch and calf muscles so they start to atrophy and also get stiff because they aren’t moving in full range motions. Do this long enough and you’re going to start getting foot and leg pains.

But what about having a lift in the sole of the shoe? Isn’t that going to help you move forward faster? There’s a lot of debate on this, but long term it’s actually going to wreck your legs, and particularly your knees and hips.

I found personally that when I switched over to zero drop shoes (meaning there isn’t a lift in the sole) that my knee pain and IT band pains disappeared. It’s been over a year and they have never come back. This honestly has made a huge impact to my quality of living. Being able to move with less pain is a big deal to me and if you’re having pain in your feet and/or legs you could possibly get rid of it too just by changing your foot wear.

Another problem with my shoes (and everyone else’s) is that the toes box is rounded which squishes the toes together. My pinky toes and my big toes both are “rounded” inward toward the middle of the foot. Also I’ve worked with many people who develop bunions and other foot traumas and degradations because of the small toe box in our “modern” shoes. Again the foot has been restricted chronically and this led to bone deformation over many years.

What’s worse is that most doctors advise getting surgery to fix the ordeal, but is there another way to reverse one’s damage to their feet and legs that’s healthier and longer lasting?

Massage

Getting Back to Nature

The answer is YES! If you’ve been reading my past articles then you know that you can reverse most physical problems – but it takes time and consistency.

For me, in getting rid of my feet and leg pain, I had to start wearing barefoot shoes. And I want to make a point here that Reese pointed out to me: Don’t jump all in. Instead, it is better to taper in. Reese advised me to try barefoot shoes but to start with wearing them for only a couple of hours a day and slowly, but steadily, increase the time I wore them daily. And that’s exactly what I did.

I would wear my shoes for maybe 3 or 4 hours then switch back to my arch supported shoes. Every week I would increase the amount of time I wore the barefoot shoes until I developed the muscles in my feet and calves again. Now I wear them all day everyday. 

I also want to throw in the fact that I got some serious massage work on my feet, shins, and calves, as this helped speed up my reversal process in healing my feet. Here’s a plug-in to remind you that our therapists are trained and can help you reverse feet problems if you so choose.

Your Turn

But what about you? Could you really reverse a bunion? Can you really get your arches back? Can you really get rid of plantar fasciitis and live pain free?

The answer? Yes to all the above. But it takes work. This is where people usually turn their brains off (but not you because you’re serious about fixing your issues). Yes you have to work. You need to own that you are the reason you’re in pain and adopt the idea that you can actually reverse it. This is the exercise of faith. If you believe it and work towards it you’re going to have an exponentially better chance at fixing your problems.

So what’s stopping you?

Helpful Links

If you’ve made it this far I’ve included some helpful links to Reese’s YouTube page and his Training page. Reese not only runs thousands of miles a year, but he also is set up to help you learn how you can do the same and keep yourself healthy while doing so. The last two links is to a Doctor of Physical Therapy who shares the same view as Reese and I do. I hope you enjoy.

Reese’s advice on footwear here.

Shortened version here.

Reese’s “The Running Elite” Training link here

Doctor of Physical Therapy’s (SquatUniversity’s) video here.

Short video “You NEED Barefoot Shoes and Toe Spacers” here.

We Will Help You Every Step Of The Way

You don’t have to live with chronic depression, pain, or life gone wack.

Take the joys of life into your own hands. Sign up for a session today and see if you don’t soon fall back in love with life.