Relieve Plantar Fasciitis with Barefoot Science insoles
A 97.6% success rate treating Plantar Fasciitis with Barefoot Science!
One in ten people suffer from plantar fasciitis, a painful condition and a frustrating one for patients and therapists alike! That statistic means plantar fasciitis could affect approximately 6 million people in the UK alone, particularly those who spend a lot of time on their feet standing and walking as part of their work or leisure pursuits. For instance we know that 100,000’s of runners, golfers and other sports men and women are affected and that significant numbers of serving and veteran soldiers suffer lower limb injuries too, with one top US military podiatrist stating 60% of the cases he sees are plantar fasciitis!
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Put simply, it’s a painful condition that causes discomfort on the sole of the foot, usually near the heel:
The general medical consensus is that plantar fasciitis is caused by;
- excessive load
- over-stretching of the plantar surface (sole of the foot)
- overuse of the foot
- poor biomechanics
Additional factors include;
- poor shoe selection
- inefficient gait…movement from the feet up
- bad balance
- over-pronation (associated with flat feet)
- over-supination (associated with high arches)
- weak intrinsic muscles of the feet
At last…a consistently successful way to treat Plantar Fasciitis
There are many suggested treatments for plantar fasciitis with numerous studies presenting variable and inconsistent results, so success is mixed and recurrences can be frequent, leaving therapist and patient equally frustrated, which begs the question ‘what are we missing’?
I was one of those frustrated therapists, having treated people from all walks of life for 29 years. I love helping them recover from painful or debilitating conditions that prevent them doing the things they enjoy, but finding a solution to this tricky condition bugged me for many years. In fact, it’s fair to say that treating plantar fasciitis was a frustrating pain in the ar…area on the bottom of the foot! At least it was until I discovered a fantastic product called Barefoot Science insoles about 6 years ago.
I have since found Barefoot Science to be incredibly effective at easing pain and getting people back on their feet quickly and safely. Not just by treating the symptoms but by stimulating, strengthening and retraining the feet which means;
- better performance
- pain free activity and
- minimal chance of recurrence!
If you are reading this you’ve probably got it, or had it and are worried it will come back to haunt you! So, what can you do? Best professional advice, research studies, folk-lore, blind faith and of course the internet have probably led you to try some or all the following methods;
Tips for treating Plantar Fasciitis
- Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation
- A gradual return to pain free exercise
Perfectly logical approaches to injury treatment!
You’ve probably been told to stretch your plantar fascia;
- To make your feet more flexible, and less likely to suffer injury or pain.
- To increase circulation, which could help your fascia heal.
However, given that one of the suggested causes of plantar fasciitis is over-stretching, is more stretching really a logical approach?
Strengthen the muscles of the feet
A number of recent studies suggest that strengthening the intrinsic muscles (20 muscles in the sole of each foot that support the arch and create ‘toe off’) will help. For example;
- heel raise exercises with the toes sitting on a rolled towel, and
- picking up pencils or marbles with your toes.
Here’s the thing…
Wearing Barefoot Science insoles is like having your own ‘in-shoe’ personal trainer reminding you to strengthen your intrinsic muscles and activate your proprioceptive nerves to improve balance… A 97.6% success rate says they work! Nearly 3 million people worldwide say they work!
Strengthening the intrinsic muscles in each foot seems to have become the widely accepted way to improve foot function and prevent plantar fasciitis, a view supported by a highly respected study by; Patrick O. McKeon, Jay Hertel, Dennis Bramble, Irene Davis titled “The foot core system: a new paradigm for understanding intrinsic foot muscle function“. Full details are available via this link;
In summary the study suggests;
- Foot core training begins with targeting the plantar intrinsic muscles via the short foot exercise, similar to the abdominal drawing in manoeuvre (made popular by Pilates), for enhancing the capacity and control of the foot core system.
- The plantar intrinsic foot muscles within the active and neural subsystems play a critical role in the foot core system as local stabilisers and direct sensors of foot deformation.
Rolling on a ball
Rolling has become a feature of pretty much every gym in the world, and as a Sports Therapist for 29 years I’ve recommended such methods on many occasions. However, I always stress the need to roll slowly, with clear intention and only 3-4 times on the affected area. In other words focus on keeping the pressure constant and bearable…be kind to yourself!
- Rolling on a golf ball or a foam roller or a spiky ball or
- Rolling the foot on an ice cold bottle.
These methods have been known to offer benefit for some people, but equally not for others.
Change your shoes for more supportive ones
Now, here is a massive area of debate. There are many different types of shoe, and a plethora of sports shoes that offer;
- arch support
- shock absorbency
- mid-foot control
- motion control
- pronation control
But the question is; should we be prescribing a shoe type based on an individual’s need for support’? A study by Dr Joseph Knapik et al https://www.jospt.org/doi/full/10.2519/jospt.2014.5342 on thousands of military personnel concluded;
“that despite the common thinking that we should support based on foot arch height, there was in fact no difference in injury rate when a ‘supportive’ shoe was worn“.
That study throws a spanner in the ‘support and cushioning’ works for sure. As does another study by; Freddy Sichting, Nicholas B. Holowka, Oliver B. Hansen & Daniel E. Lieberman, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-71247-9 recently featured in the Guardian newspaper. It looked at the effect of shoes with an upward curvature of the sole at the front which holds the toes in a constantly dorsiflexed (bent upward) position;
It suggested that “habitually wearing shoes with toe springs could inhibit or de-condition the force generating capacity of intrinsic foot muscles. While the direct consequences of weak foot muscles are not fully known, it is likely that they could increase susceptibility to flat foot and associated problems such as plantar fasciitis“.
I’m not by any means the first person to point out that in 50 years of ‘advanced technology’ in shoe design the percentage of runners getting injured has increased year on year, currently standing at nearly 80%. It seems pretty clear that something is being missed! But that’s a subject for another blog.
What about Orthotics?
As many of you will know, Orthotics been around for many years and have helped and will continue to help certain conditions.
If you are experiencing pain associated with plantar fasciitis it is often suggested that Orthotic insoles will help by supporting the medial foot arch and stopping the foot from over-pronating. It’s also true to say that a high arch (over supinated foot) could cause plantar fasciitis, so how does your treatment in that instance differ and will orthotics help with that? In either instance do Orthotics retrain the feet to function better or simply prop them up?
My personal opinion based on 1000’s of assessments looking at the whole bio-mechanical chain rather than just the foot, is that orthotics don’t provide any consistent or lasting benefit to Plantar fasciitis, whereas I’ve found that because Barefoot Science insoles work to retrain the intrinsic muscles of the feet and reorganise neuromuscular patterns of engagement through the body, they create better movement and successfully reduce the risk of plantar fasciitis recurring.
Current clinical guidelines include the use of foot orthotic devices for heel pain and plantar fasciitis, but lack any reference to strengthening of the foot. Temporary support may be needed during the acute phase of an injury but it should be replaced as soon as possible with a strengthening programme just like with any other part of the body.
In fact many people I’ve treated arrive with a carrier bag full of orthotics that haven’t helped or are simply uncomfortable.
https://allaboutbalance.co.uk/first-the-orthotic/ describes that scenario.
Other Treatment methods for Plantar Fasciitis
If you’ve visited a Physiotherapist or Podiatrist with plantar fasciitis they will almost certainly recommend you try some of the techniques above. Additionally, they may use treatment protocols including;
- Shockwave therapy
- Ultra Sound therapy
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
Here again the success of such treatments is variable and recurrence is not uncommon so what is being missed?
Barefoot Science insoles…‘the missing link’ …how do they help treat Plantar Fasciitis?
Barefoot Science insoles are specially constructed insoles with a patented dome shape in front of the heel in an area of the foot called the mid-arch. On the underside of the dome there is a socket in to which you insert 6 or 7 progressively large plugs which provide a gradually increasing amount of nerve stimulation to ‘switch on’ your proprioceptive system and to retrain and strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the feet with every step. Barefoot Science insoles will improve your balance and help control pronation and encourage re-supination of your feet which means your feet and legs can function as nature intended. Giving you;
- Better foot control at ‘ground contact’
- Improved propulsion at ‘toe off”
- Better balance
- Pain free movement
- They are not an Orthotic
- Neither do they focus on providing support or cushioning.
- Pretty much every person who tries them says the same thing… ” they just make sense“!
For more information click the link
What is Proprioception and why is it so important?
Any article about plantar fasciitis or in fact pretty much any injury wouldn’t be complete without an explanation of Proprioception…the Body’s Built-In Injury Avoidance System.
There are 200,000 proprioceptors (nerve endings) in the sole of each foot. On every step they transmit information about movement, balance and spatial awareness, nourishing the brain with sensory information that;
- tells us where we are in space relative to things around us.
- tells each bone where it is relative to the bones adjacent to it.
- provides information about movement and balance.
Proprioceptive nerves also trigger the ‘stretch reflex’ without us consciously thinking;
- Our “Stretch Reflex” is activated when the proprioceptors sense too much stretch or force on a muscle or tendon that could lead to injury. The stretched muscle or tendon responds by contracting or shortening in a fraction of a second, automatically protecting us from injury.
- Olympic Coaches have commented that Barefoot Science insoles have reduced their athlete’s ankle sprains by 50% due to this natural injury prevention gift.
Barefoot Science insoles were developed by a Chiropractor some 22 years ago specifically to stimulate proprioception from the feet up, and in 2019 became an approved product by the British Chiropractic Association.
Don’t take my word for this, read the comments of one of the US military’s leading foot specialists. He says it far better than me;
Mr Olden stated that 60% of the cases he has treated during his 30 year career are Plantar fasciitis.
His report continues as follows;
“I’ve been using Barefoot Science insoles on my patients for the past 7 years with a 97.6% success rate on plantar fasciitis“.
“I have constructed and tried many orthotics but found most of them were more accommodating to ‘functional foot conditions’ keeping the foot aligned and rigid, yet never strengthening the foot, although there is a myriad of devices that claim they do so. In my experience none of them worked for the purpose of strengthening the intrinsic muscles. I started working with Barefoot Science a few years ago, and it has really turned our practice into a healing clinic”.
He goes on to say; “Strengthening the arch and feet and their respective intrinsic muscles effectively allows the patients feet to become self-supportive over time and eliminates revisits for the same issues”.
“We’ve moved away from bracing the feet with orthotics which tended to provide short term benefits but caused additional weakness and instability, to progressively strengthening the feet with every step my patients take“.
Mike Olden H.t; Ost; C-Ped; Pmac. American Board for Certifications in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics. *Board Certified Pedorthist cert no: Cped0724.
As Mr Olden said “the proof is in the pudding, try it for yourself!
Anyone that puts Barefoot Science insoles in their shoes will have an increase in performance and a greatly reduced chance of injury. I now wear my Barefoot Science every day and recommend them to all of my clients.
Richard Pady, CanadaTriathlon Coach, Trainer and Competitor
I wear Barefoot Science, I know that every football player will benefit from an increase in balance, performance and reduced risk of injury that this product provides!
Roger Spry, UKUEFA staff coach educator and Sports Consultant
I have used Barefoot orthotics on some of my toughest casesof plantar fasciitis, tibialis posterior tendinosis and metatarsal- gia and have had excellent results. These are people who have tried and failed traditional orthotics, stretches and various other devices. Barefoot orthotics are easy to sell as people can see the logic in the approach. Thoroughly happy with the product and service
Mark GillhamPhysiotherapist, Cowra NSW, Australia
Immediately from stepping onto my insoles with level one insert I felt a subtle but reassuring change in posture and balance. 8 weeks later I am up to level 6 and two weeks ago I was able to start running again pain-free for the first time in 14 months since a back injury. By way of an update; "Thank you Barefoot Science:- I am completely stoked as I just ran a personal best for a 10k trail over mixed terrain, pain-free!" ...........This afternoon's time was 57:28 - pretty ordinary for many but great for me as my goal has been to get 10k covered in under an hour......... and, after all, I am 186cm, 108kgs and 49 1/2 yrs old! I first 'ran' again in May and took 11 mins to cover 1.6km / 1 mile!
Tim in Alton, HampshireA member of EDC Crossfit
In our office, Barefoot Science (BFS) has been effectively used to help improve this proprioceptive deficit. Barefoot Science is a non-orthotic mid-arch stimulator. Due to its ability to create mid-arch activation, BFS mimics barefoot walking in sand and over time can dramatically help to reduce a proprioceptive deficit and improve foot strength. We highly recommend that all take a look at this wonderful product.
Dr. Peter Gorman and Dr. Chelsea KeeslerChiropractors New York
I wanted to let you know how I’m getting on with the Barefoot Science insoles as I just moved up to insert no.5 after almost 6 months, which I am finding very comfortable. I can feel them, but in a comforting sort of way. I have to report that I have had hardly any instances of dizziness since about a week from starting to wear them. I am so IMPRESSED! I am trying to do a few balance exercises every day as you recommended, and as a near 70 year old with seven small grand-children, four of them only two so they need floor level attention, I am conscious of the need to keep my balance while getting down and back up! The knee bending is okay up to a point and I’m hopeful it will improve as I use it more. But, as far as the balance side of things go I am thrilled. I think it is positively miraculous and am very grateful to you for suggesting them.
Veronica BarrattA Guildford lady with balance issues
Hi There, My name is Andrew Coltart. I was a golf professional on the European Tour for 19 years and a former Ryder Cup player. I now walk the fairways of the world commentating for a Major Satellite TV Company. My problem came to the fore when I was 47 years old. I had developed Plantar Fasciitis and it was becoming unbearable and debilitating with pretty much constant pain out on the course and in spite of various types of treatment no signs of improvement. I was starting to wonder if I’d be able to carry on working in my current role. Then I met Stuart Gordon of All About Balance and he explained The Barefoot Science Foot Strengthening System. Basically, because of these simple little nerve stimulating plugs that you insert into the underside of the insole, walking has become pain free and enjoyable again. These are no ordinary insoles. Don’t be fooled by expensive orthotics. The Barefoot Science Foot Strengthening System worked wonders for me, not only helping me continue in my work without any pain, they have also improved my balance…an essential factor in general life and massively important to achieving a consistent golf swing! I highly recommend investing in some.
Andrew Coltard UKFormer European Tour and Ryder Cup Golf Pro., Satellite TV on course Golf analyst.
I have been using Barefoot Science insoles consistently since the beginning of the year. They took me a while to use regularly but with the addition of extra pairs, I am able to ensure that I am using them on almost all occasions. This includes walking, CrossFit WOD's, running and every day wear. As you know, my flat feet caused me terrible pain with shin splints and tight calves every time I did any high impact training including running, even just the shortest distance. I haven't rushed through the stages and have only just moved onto level 3. Tonight I completed a 5km run with zero pain. This is the furthest I have run since 2011 and I even shaved 1 minute off my best 1 mile time!! I've found something comfortable that offers me a solution to pain free training, and I'm only half way through the 6 level programme. Thank you so much for introducing me to the Barefoot Science insoles. ☺
Claire ChiversCrossfit athlete EDC Alton, Hants.
Personal, Barefoot Science testimonial 26 April, 2013 To my fellow Pod people and persons that have foot related problems, I've found a product called Barefoot Science. I like this product and I use it daily, both for myself, and my Podiatric patients, I personally have had foot related injuries and deficits that caused daily foot pain for years as a result of my military service, not any longer though with my Barefoot Science inserts. I would not go without these inserts in my shoes. I was introduced to this product at a foot healthcare symposium, by Mr. Derek Denton of Alamo Medical services... As an employee of a Podiatry Service of a VA hospital in Texas, I perform highly technical work involved in the design, development, fabrication, alteration, assembly, fitting and repair of orthotic foot braces and orthotic shoes for Veterans as related to their post military service, i.e.: disease ,injury and overuse of the feet and ankle(s). I interpret Podiatrist' prescriptions and perform all steps required in the fabrication and fitting of the several types of orthotic braces, for many of which there are no models or precedents, including but not limited to ankle, foot and lower limb, as related to Podiatric disabilities and advise physicians concerning all types of corrective devices available and modification necessary; to help heal or ameliorate these conditions. *Presently now with the Barefoot Science product(s) I personally have noticed over the years the Pedorthic/Podiatric appliances and more complex appliances in the Pedorthic /Podiatry labs were more accommodating to the “functional foot conditions” that kept the foot aligned and rigid, yet never strengthened the foot, although there is a myriad of devices that claim they do so. I have tried most and until now none of them worked for this purpose of strengthening the intrinsic muscles. I started working with Barefoot Science a few years ago, and it has really turned our practice into a healing clinic. Helping ameliorate painful Podiatric conditions such as plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, claw toes, hammertoes, corns, plantar fasciitis, patellar misalignments, chrodromalacia patella, ITB syndrome. I have been working in this field of Podiatry since the mid 1980’s, both with U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel, now with Veterans of all armed services as a triple Board Certified Pedorthist and Podiatric clinic manager. I wished we would have had this Barefoot Science product while I was on active duty as a Navy Corpsman, this may have prevented a lot of future/past foot related conditions that we see now. I have also noticed currently within our Podiatric practice a remarkable shift for continuity of care while using these barefoot science rehabilitative foot inserts. The patients get better and stronger while walking not sitting with their feet elevated and hoping the Nsaids do the job. I’ve noticed a reduction of fatigue from all our patients now that they can walk and repair themselves; we have reduced the need for pharmaceuticals (pain meds), orthotics, foot-braces, or surgical interventions, finally solutions ,for these chronic and painful foot problems! *I agree with the following statement of use, and I could not have said it better! Each Barefoot Science Arch Activation SystemTM comes with a pair of insoles to fit into your existing footwear and a series of progressive arch activation inserts. To start, just pop Level 1 into the underside of the insole, slide them in your shoes and get on with your day! It feels like a mini foot massage, sending waves of comfort throughout your body. That sensation is actually your foot muscles waking up and getting stronger. When the sensation fades, usually within a week, your feet are ready to move up to the next level. It’s that easy! With each step, your feet become stronger and more efficient. I recommend this product, and I am not just a practice of one, I work with Dr Karen Brooks, a Podiatrist, we tag team on every Veteran that enters our offices for Podiatric services, she too has over 25 years’ experience in Podiatry Practice and is also very happy with the results of this innovative design and the multiple uses of this barefoot Science rehabilitative and preventative shoe insert to help our Podiatric patients/Veterans. Sincerely, Mike Olden... P.S. Please note: We have a Zebris gait lab pressure measuring platform onsite in our clinic’s Pedorthic lab, that is used to measure our results on every patient pre and post usage of the Barefoot Science rehabilitative inserts. Both static and dynamic is monitored, along with postural sway, including the shoes that they are worn in. The proof is in the pudding, try it for yourself! Michael P.Olden, H.t; Ost; C-Ped; Pmac. Department of Veterans Affairs American Board for Certifications in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics. *Board Certified Pedorthist cert no: Cped0724. KD DIV.HERT Team Decon Coordinator /Instructor KD DIV.Podiatry PAVE TEAM Coordinator/Trainer KD DIV.Local AFGE 2281 Steward+SGT-AT-ARMS KD-Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System-Team Coordinator Advanced Disaster Life Support Instructor-Cert. Advanced Disaster Medical Response for Providers-Cert. AHA-Basic Cardiac Life Support Instructor-VA-Cert. ECU2 Containment Unit- Staff Trainer-KD-Div. Surgical Service, Code 11C Podiatry / Pedorthic Clinics KD -Div. South Texas Veterans Health Care Systems 3600 Memorial Blvd., Kerrville, Texas. 78028-5768 Wk: (830)-792-2660 Fax :( 830)-792-2532 VA Cell (830)370-2887 Twitter – DEMPS17 Email: Michael.Olden@med.va.gov
Michael P.Olden, H.t; Ost; C-Ped; Pmac.Department of Veterans Affairs American Board for Certifications in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics. *Board Certified Pedorthist cert no: Cped0724
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