Plantar Fasciitis, Fibromyalgia, Tai Chi & Qigong

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Q. Jeff asks: I have plantar fasciitis in both feet due to my tight tendons. My right heel is pretty sore from walking around barefoot during both Yoga and Tai Chi class. I wonder if I can wear any kind of soft shoe during either class?

A. Heel spur / plantar fasciitis (also sometimes spelled “fascitis”) is a condition where the bottom of the heel is extremely painful. A heel spur is a bony overgrowth and is usually a result of an inflamed plantar ligament on the bottom of the foot attaching to the heel. Constant pulling of this ligament irritates the heel and a bone spur overgrows as a protective mechanism. Thplantar fasciitis, tantric qigong, 8 treasures, eight section brocade, ba duan jin, 8 pieces of silk, 8 twists of silk, 8 brocades, qigong, self mastery, qigong for self mastery, qigong for enlightenment, enlightenment, self actualization, self realization, spiritual awakening, kriyas, kriya yoga, kundalini, kundalini yoga, kundalini awakening, kundalini activation, kundalini rising, meditation, kundalini meditation, wu wei, t'ai chi, t'ai chi chuan, qigong meditation, Vipassana, Zen, inner tranquility, inner peace, bioenergetics, neo-reichian, Reich, orgone, qi, chi, ki, vitality, life force, chakras, tumo, dumo, dantien. tan tien, hara, bagua, Taoism, taoist, taoist tantra, tantra, tantra yoga, dakini, daka, goddess, tantrika, tantrik, stress, stress management, 10 minutes, 10 minute exercise, 10 minute stress, 1 minute stress management, 1 minute meditation,  60 second relaxation, personal growth, spiritual growth, yoga, Sifu, classes, instruction, workshops, seminars, Intention, Manifestation, The secret, Yoga Nidra, Higher Consciousness, The Law of Attraction, What the bleep, Buddha, Buddhism, Tantric Buddhism, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Aspen Hill, silver spring, Brookeville, sandy spring, Laytonsville, Potomac, Derwood, Montgomery County, Frederick, Germantown, Maryland, District of Columbia, Washington DC, guided meditation, visualization, self healing, qigong yoga, energy yoga, chakra yoga, chakra qigong, chakra chi kung, Chakra meditation, Howard County, Columbia, Frederick, Baltimore, Northern Virginia, Prince Georges County ere is usually pain with the first step in the morning, some relief after activity, but pain returns after long periods of weight bearing activity. The plantar fascia is a tough structure, but can only stretch about 102% of its length before tearing. Its relative inflexibility incurs the absorption of tremendous force in the fascia every time the foot hits the ground

This type of condition is not well understood medically. It seems to be associated with obesity, poor shoe design, alignment of the heel, gout, pronation, and arthritis. According to Dr. Gabe Mirkin, “Doctors have no medications that help heal the plantar fascia. Surgery to cut the plantar, called fasciotomy, is usually ineffective and may even prevent healing.”

Plantar fasciitis also seems to be present in a number of individuals with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a condition of painful, stiff muscles and connective tissue whose medical etiology may involve auto-immune, central nervous system, and psychological or perceptual components. There is no medical cure for this condition, and patients are usually dissatisfied with their treatment options.

Here are some suggestions to improve Plantar Fasciitis (fascitis):
– Take a warm hip-bath before class to relax leg, and hip muscles.  If you are going to soak the foot, icing it down afterwards might be helpful.
– Keep these muscles warm when traveling to class.
– Slowly, gently, & Consciously “step into” the stiffness and pain.
– A TENS unit with a conductive sock  seems helpful to some people. The electrical stimulation may stimulate circulation and relax muscle tissue.
– At night, wearing a Strassburg sock or splint helps keep the foot flexed allowing the fascia to heal in a stretched position.
– Massage the arch of your foot with BioFreeze to relieve pain, turmeric may act as an anti-inflammatory.
– Relax your body and mind.
– Breathe deeply.

From an Eastern (both Taoist and yogic) perspective, the deeper causes may relate to a bioenergetic imbalance. There can be an underlying karmic imbalance within and between the first 4 chakras. This imbalance is further shaped and expressed through genetic and environmental factors. There is also the feedback loop of hypersensitivity to discomfort creating anxiety and emotional resistance, which in turn increases the perception of threat and pain and perhaps an involuntary subconscious tightening of the musculature which can further inhibit the flexibility of the affected area.

The systems of T’ai Chi and Tantric Qigong that I teach are ideal for intervention in this process.

Consistent T’ai Chi & Tantric Qigong practice will:
– Improve biomechanical alignment and efficiency.
– Increase healing life force.
– Transmute underlying emotional issues.
– Improve flexibility and blood flow through gentle, conscious, weight bearing stretching.
– Increase empowerment, decrease anxiety and emotional resistance.

In regards to a shoe, though I prefer that you go barefoot to maximize pedal flexibility and groundedness, it would be OK to wear something with a soft sole and arch support. In addition to the cushioning support, some beneficial warming of the sole may occur. A T’ai Chi  shoe with a rubber sole and a thin orthotic insert would be ideal. You can purchase these shoes via the Internet or try them on at a martial arts studio. My students can get a discount at the Flying Dragon. They have Chinese sizes, so unless you know what your size is you might have to try them on. Also some reflexology and foot massage might be helpful.

With committed, daily T’ai Chi and Tantric Qigong practice (more than once a day would be better,) you will soon experience some improvement. Though there can be some discomfort and resistance at first, the student who perseveres will notice definite progress. Copyright 2005, Keith E. Hall.  All rights reserved.

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