For more than a decade, I’ve been a runner and dealt with minimal injuries. That is, I was injury-free until a couple of years ago when we replaced our carpet with hardwood floors. I work from home and had always spent my days barefoot. I got a height-adjustable sitting/standing desk and started using it. In early 2015, I ramped up from my usual 9-10 miles a week to start training for a half-marathon.
All of these changes—the floors, the standing, the extra mileage—resulted in a lingering case of plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissue at the bottom of the foot connecting heel to toes. It’s common among runners and athletes. The easiest way to diagnose it is, well, the stabbing pain you feel in your heel upon first getting up in the morning. I would wake up, get out of bed, grimace, and limp into the kitchen for some coffee. Then the pain would gradually subside by the time I started running or working out a few hours later. It didn’t hurt while actually running. It only hurt in the mornings.
Annoying and painful, but I could deal with it. I thought the pain would gradually go away.
It didn’t. By last spring, I’d had PF for a full year and started looking into some therapy to fix it. I bought new running shoes with better support. I slept in an ankle-supporting foot sleeve. I started stretching every night. I rolled the arch of my foot on spiky therapy balls (which feels great but only offers temporary relief). I abandoned my barefoot approach and wore Oofos slides instead around the house. I spent hours researching treatments and therapy options.
Nothing helped. After a year of discomfort, I quit running altogether during the summer of 2016 to see if the time off my feet helped. By this point, I’d become more flexible than ever before thanks to the nightly stretching of my hamstrings, quads, and calves—I have tremendous hip flexibility but had literally never been able to touch my toes until this month. Even after that, I woke up every morning to heel pain.
The plantar fasciitis wasn’t going away.
Finally I ran into one treatment that finally offered some actual relief: the Strassburg Sock. I’m not sure why this product didn’t show up during my earlier online research sessions, but there it was. It’s just a tall sock with an attached Velcro strap that keeps your foot in a slightly flexed position all night. It turns out this sock was the only therapy for plantar fasciitis that actually got results in an independent research study.
I got one and began wearing it. The sock took some getting used to. The foot position was uncomfortable at first and woke me up several times over the first few nights. But eventually I was able to sleep and forgot it was there.
After wearing it several nights in a row, I woke up, got out of bed, and had no heel pain for the first time in more than a year. It worked.
Today, my plantar fasciitis isn’t gone entirely. I don’t wear the sock every night, and if I forget to wear it to bed after a long run that day, I will still wake up to some pain. But the relief it offers is real, and I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by how well it works.
If you can get past the weird foot flex while you sleep, it may work for you, too. (Most of the negative reviews on Amazon for this product are from people who found the Strassburg sock to be uncomfortable.) Good luck!
* I’m not a paid endorser for this product, but any links above are affiliate links and I’ll make a few cents if you click them and end up buying something.