My Plantar Fasciitis started with a business trip to India. The plan was to run every Asian city I could – exercise and tourism combined! Foolishly in Delhi, I extended my run from the hotel to India Gate, by going on into the old city.
Practicing ‘mid-foot striking’, in new running shoes, I got hopelessly lost and it was another 1.5 hours before I rediscovered the hotel. The combination of over-exercise in low-arch shoes, (and not stretching?), had inflamed tissues joining the ball of my foot to my toes. Nothing prepared me for the next morning’s discomfort from a complaint affecting as many as 10% of us.
The first steps of the day are often the most painful for sufferers of plantar fasciitis, a disorder with as many treatments as causes. Stretching to relieve pressure on the ligament and strengthening the arch is common treatment advice. At rest or asleep, tired muscles and tendons naturally contract – hence the more acute pain in resuming activity.
Barefoot walking was out of the question – too painful. My old flip-flops made things worse. One of the top podiatrists in Singapore instructed me to put on footwear with ‘arch support’ the moment you swing your legs out of bed each morning; stretch; and ‘avoid running for 3 months’. Wearing outdoor shoes indoors, with or without ‘orthotics’, was neither relaxing nor hygienic. It was a footwear problem, the solution to which materialised years later in Australia.
In 2016, I was working on a medical App with a guy from the University of Queensland. On a break to the Sunshine Coast, I stopped off at Eumundi market to get some ‘swimmers’ and some ‘thongs’ (flip flops).
That’s where I met Craig, on the market-stall of Aussie Soles (aussiesoles.com). Different to ordinary flip-flops, Craig explained that they were ‘orthotic’, would ‘mould shape’ to give a more personalised fit, and the arch support would ‘relax ya feet’. Slipping on a pair of Aussie Soles ‘Starfish’ I let forth an involuntary ‘Ooooo… they feel GOOD’. Neither of us knew we would become business partners the following year.
Avoid putting on too much weight, exercise more, don’t over-exercise, stretch more often, wear the right shoes… the list goes on. At one extreme we have the argument ‘always go barefoot’ for strength. At the other, ‘always wear arch support footwear’. For most of us, barefoot throughout life is as impractical as never going barefoot. We are all different, so the better question to answer is ‘how do you prevent YOUR plantar fasciitis?’ - hard to answer if you have never had it! If you have, you really don’t want to experience the pain again, and what now seems certain, is that for first time or returning sufferers, arch support is your ‘friend’.
Not sure. I switched over to swimming and then cycling, and now walking. It hasn’t returned thankfully, but I’m 10kg’s heavier, which isn’t great. On the last stretch walking El Camino in 2016, my friend Pete and I messed up on timings and were left with a 52km final day. My greatest fear was a recurrence of the dreaded plantar fasciitis from over-exercise.
Arriving into Santiago is a spiritual experience. My epiphany came, however, in the form of a footwear change. After 12 hours of hiking, replacing walking boots with my Aussie Soles flip-flops (thongs!) was pure elation. Aside from the comfort, I knew that with high-arch support, I would have relief (and my Podiatrist’s approval), for those potentially painful morning steps. It stayed away, but knowing you have an ally against this enemy is a form of relief in itself.
The very next day, Craig in Queensland received an email from Spain that led to the introduction of Aussie Soles to the UK. Pain is turning to gain, with sales growing rapidly via Amazon and on this website. Now, I swing into Aussie Soles Starfish (extra arch support), every morning, just like my podiatrist told me 10 years ago. Judging by demand, chilling-out in orthotic flip-flops that are comfortable and better for foot health is on the rise. Hopefully others like me will be able to experience relief from the symptoms (and fear) of plantar fasciitis.
James, Founder of Aussie Soles UK