Risks of the job…

Loving photography as much as I do, there are risks to it.

For example, never, ever, ever lie down on an ant’s nest.
This basic bit of advice is for the photographer so consumed by what they see in front of them that they drop down to get that great angle, only to find after a few seconds that there’s an unpleasant crawling and biting feeling…
And if you’ve ever tried to get hundreds of ants off you, you’ll know it’s tricky and involves removing items of clothing, running hysterically round in circles whirling said clothing above head and squealing.

Sitting for long periods at your desk can have physical repercussions too and this goes for any type of job where you spend long hours at your desk.

For some months I’ve been having foot pain, which turns out to be plantar faciitis.  I bet you’re going to click on that because despite it being incredibly common, lots of people have never even heard of it.
Despite being common, PF is an incredibly painful and debilitating condition.
It can be bought on by any number of issues but sufferers end up with a painful tightening of the plantar at the base of the foot.  During sleep, the plantar tightens up and in the morning, stepping out of bed onto the foot is incredibly painful as micro tears occur with each painful step.
As a result, healing can take many months or even years.  Sometimes surgery is recommended if it doesn’t clear up, though research indicates this isn’t an ideal and can sometimes fail to bring relief.

Unless you’re into sports injuries or physiotherapy, or perhaps weight lifting, you’ll have never really heard of your Psoas either!
Well now you have.  And if you have any kind of desk job where you lean over a desk … say spending hours editing photographs, like I do, then chances are, you’re shortening your Psoas.
And when you shorten it, bad things happen.


Of course, it took me several weeks at a chiro and then weeks of googling searching through different articles until I finally found what I was looking for.
 I couldn’t go running or play tennis or even walk properly without constant pain.  The chiro and I discussed that of course, everything was connected and the foot being the end of the body, something else must be causing all that tension and pulling.  It wasn’t like I’d hurt my foot somewhere along the way…
After a few weeks of treatment with the chiro,  I then had a great discussion with a sports therapist (Thanks Daren) to figure out what was causing my foot pain.. and finally, after some detective work, turns out I shortened my Psoas and now I need to stretch that baby back to where it was… which is quite painful, ironically, because it’s so tight, as are the surrounding muscles.  But of course, after a week or so of stretching, bingo!  Foot pain dissipating at quite a rapid rate of knots.
Obviously it will take some months to heal but I’m on the way.

I don’t claim to have a cure for Plantar Faciitis, but I have a cure for me, and so hopefully someone else might stumble across this in their search for help, just as I did with other web pages.
There’s some things that I found out which might help you too.

1. Wear good shoes.  If you’ve been wearing your running shoes for more than 6 months, chances are the support has gone.  Get rid of them and get a really good pair of walking shoes.  The better the support in your arch and for the rest of your foot, the better off you are.  Get lace up shoes and avoid velcro fastenings.  You want to be able to really tighten up the support around your foot and velcro gets lose after a while and may not work as effectively.  Ask at a good sports shop for advice.  Good fitting is essential.
If you buy your walking shoes from your local KMart, men’s shoes often have better support than women’s trainers – anyone who knows why, feel free to let me know.  They’re also made more often of leather for some unknown reason, so better to get those if you’re hard on your feet.  Look for Diadora or good cross trainers.

2.  Orthotics may or may not help you.  The only way to find out is to try.  There’s a clinic in Sydney who seems to be able to cure just by giving you an orthotic for your shoes.  I don’t know how true this is, but they seem to have good testimonials.  Saying that, who’s going to put a bad testimonial on their site?  I’m not sure what makes their orthotics so different to shop bought orthotics, but check them out if you’re in Sydney.  They claim a good cure rate.

3.  Ice is good.  Rest your foot on ice a few times a day.  Bag of peas from the freezer is just fine.  Ten minutes a few times a day will remove the inflammation.

4. You can get ibuprofen based cream to rub in, which may help.  However, you’ve got to locate what’s pulling on your muscles to cause this in the first place.  Any tightness in your back?  Any previous injury?  Any pain in your shoulders?  Remember, everything is connected.

5.  My chiro put me on the road to recovery but it was only by talking with a qualified sports therapist who actually helped me.  His mention of tightness in the glutes was right on and it was that which helped me work out what was going on.  Google was my friend!

6.  Remember this takes a while to heal.  My chiro said I’d done the same as banging my thumb with a hammer and was still thinking I could continue to use it.  Inflammation and all these micro tears in the Plantar Fascia will take a while to go away.

7.  Really good, professional deep tissue massage will help.   I don’t mean a beauty massage, I mean the ‘as much as you can bear’ sort of massage, along with lymphatic drainage.  These deep tissue massage will help you loosen up the muscles which are tight.  In fact, I wish I’d done the deep tissue massage in the first place.  It would have saved me a lot of money and pain!

8.  There’s a guy who tells the story of how practising swimming with flippers on actually helped cure him.   This may be because he strengthened up the muscles in his lower back and this cured him.  Either way, it’s a good thing to try.

9.  Pain in your foot makes you not want to exercise.  BUT the last thing you should do is STOP exercising as you’ll put on weight and be miserable.   So you can swim and you can also ride a bike or spin in a low gear.  Don’t be ramping up your speed by changing gears – it’s not about speed, it’s about exercise.  Exercise biking might help you too if you have one.  That’s the thing in your bedroom which you put your clothes on.  😉

10.  Stretching the calf muscles actually makes things worse.  Whilst many sites tell you to stretch your calf and foot, this can cause more inflammation.  For me, it wasn’t remotely helpful.  No tennis balls under the arch either.   What was useful was this study I found, which showed that an actual plantar stretch was the most beneficial.

11.  PF can be caused by many things so it’s important to locate what it is that’s bugging you.  Your foot’s at the end of the chain, so the problem is not in your foot in my opinion, it’s somewhere else.
Mine was to do with the Psoas, so my stretches have been glute, hip and psoas stretches… you might try these and see if it helps you.
If your muscles feel tight, stretch!

12. Certain vitamins can help you to support the ligament and also reduce inflammation.   Try Omega 3’s in fish oil for example for its anti inflammatory qualities.

Either way, it’s so important to remember your posture whatever job you’re doing.  If you’re sitting for long periods, get up and stretch.  Don’t lean forward into your desk and sit right back in your chair when you are sitting down.  Make sure your screen is high enough to look at without slouching and sit up straight.

I’d love to hear from anyone who’s had this foot thing too.  How did you make it go away or are you still struggling with it?