Chi Walking practice can help with your Chi Running and plantar fasciitis - Chi Running

Chi Walking practice can help with your Chi Running and plantar fasciitis

Posted by Elizabeth Frost on Fri Feb 12th, 2010, 13 comments

I was working with a client this morning who has had a little flare up of the dreaded plantar fasciitis.

We practiced running will soft feet, landing midfoot, circular foot motion and hip rotation. In order to prevent a flare up of PF, it’s really helpful to focus on not pushing off with your toes, not holding any tension in your lower legs.

In order to really feel what it’s like to keep your lower legs completely relaxed, it’s easier to stand and begin walking, practicing the heel lift: Stand with correct posture, and imagine your psoas muscle (the deep, vertical muscle that runs between your pelvis and your middle spine) doing the work of lifting your leg. It’s a very strong muscle and can lift up your feet all day long without getting overused.

Walking around on the track this morning, my client had a moment of “ah-hah!” practicing the simple exercise of lifting his feet off the ground: he was really Body Sensing his ability to let his lower legs relax completely and rely on his psoas muscle to do the work. I explained that the more he can practice that all day every day: walking around the house, in the grocery, to the mailbox, even up and down stairs, the more easily it will become for him. Then, when he goes out to run, the ankle lift will be like second nature.

For those of you who have bouts of plantar fasciitis:

  • Use tennis balls on the plantar tendon, and really push down hard with your foot to stretch and passively activate that tendon.
  • Don’t walk barefoot at all! In fact, if you can wear sandals in the shower and as soon as you rise in the morning, that helps enormously.
  • Keep walking and running, if you can stand it. PF gets worse the less you move and the more you sit still, because it gets stiff.
  • Ice your tendon after exercising: frozen veggie bags or Dixie cups of frozen ice work well
  • Stay Positive! You’ll get through it, you just have to listen to your body!

It was very fun to help my friend and client have this ah-hah! moment of recognizing a completely relaxed and passive lower leg by practicing Chi Walking: it will help him recover from PF and it will also help as he continues to run, recognizing the difference between toeing off VS lifting the ankle.



  • midfoot strike,
  • plantar fasciitis

13 CommentsLeave a comment below

ChiWalking practice can help with plantar fascitis Feb 12th, 2010 02:38pm

[...] ChiWalking practice can help with your ChiRunning and plantar fasciitis [...]

Thanks for the PF tips, Liz!

I have a little PF flare up myself and have found the suggestion of walking on gravel in my socks before a run very helpful.  Why should you not be barefoot if you are suffering from PF?

Hi Lotte, Walking barefoot with PF excacerbates the PF: your tendon is on hyper-alert, and walking barefoot puts it very close to the ground and your foot really does “work” more when it’s barefoot…. the idea is that you go barefoot when your feet are healthy to strengthen them and keep them from having weaknesses… but going barefoot with PF doesn’t help the situation, whereas wearing shoes and helping support that tendon until it heals is what you want to do… Hope that helps.!

PF for about a year now. 
*PT helped a little
*deep massage worked better than the ASTYM.  *I refuse to get cortizone shots. 
*Wearing night splints. 
I think walking on gravel mimmicks a deep tissue massage, and gets to the spots a PT can’t.  Plus since you are using your body weight instead of relying the PT’s pressure, it is a “maintainable massage”.  Im on day 2 of gravel walking… so far it seems to help, but im leary of placebo effect.  comments?

Hi Chad - doubtful it’s going to be a placebo… just keep up with it! It’s really important to keep at it. Having PF for a year means that tendon is tight tight tight. If you can commit to walking on the gravel every day for the next couple of weeks, not go barefoot and make an effort to wear flexible shoes and avoid toeing off/heel striking, you’re absolutely on the path to recovery. I would say the pebble walking is one of the single-most effective ways of beating PF, but you have to be dedicated and do the other stuff to help as well!

Vancouver Orthotics Mar 31st, 2011 04:40pm

Thanks for sharing! Great information!

Dr. Michael Horowitz, Vancouver Orthotics

Just recovering from a ruptured plantar fascia. PF for 8 months, cortisone shot and then finally a “pop” during a race. So, 4 months later after months of deep water pool running, spinning and yoga and then some weight bearing running in the pool for a month I am back to running on trails only. Just found Chirunning and am optomistic this will prevent a reoccurence.

Elizabeth Frost May 23rd, 2011 09:18am

Hi Edie, thanks for your note.

PF is so awful, isn’t it? Congratulations on rehab-ing yourself! As you get back into running, Chi Running will be able to help you avoid plantar fasciitis, and if it starts to flare up again, there are plenty of resources on the site with advice on how to get through it.

Keep up the great work!

Thank you so much for the PF advice.  It would be really nice to have a forum or blog where runners give suggetions and tell what has worked.  Liz - you commented on flexible shoes - do you have any suggestions?  I have been searching and reading but reviews seem to be very mixed. I have been dealing with this for six months now and have tried just about everything.  I have good days and bad days (good runs and bad runs) and nothing seems to be permanent.  Haven’t tried the gravel and will definately try that next.  Would appreciate any advice or suggestions. I refuse to give up and I refuse to stop running.  (although I will do run/walks)  I still feel better when I run.  The pain comes after!  Thanks, Suzie

This is very interesting, I am wearing SCOTT shoes, which I was told have a flatter bottom. I was doing great, then went off a curb wrong and now have PF on my right foot. My doctor said not to walk or run…I am really not getting better so I think I will try some chi walking, if I can figure it out. I live outside of Seattle and have not heard of any classes locally, or near where I live. I am in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, two day, 39.3 mile walk. I have never done a thing like it, so this PF is causing my training to be a bit miserable. Any Suggestions?

Elizabeth Frost Jun 27th, 2011 10:20am

Hi Jeanne. I imagine that you’re having a difficult time with your training. PF is so painful and can really become a problem.

I would highly recommend reading this article:

The thing that’s tricky about PF is that if you don’t walk or exercise, the tendon gets tight and painful. Generally, if you keep moving, it will keep it supple and stretched.

Chi Walking can really help PF because we teach you how to NOT “use” the muscles in your lower legs/feet, but it will allow you to keep moving and and keep those muscles and tendons nice and active.

We have a lot of customers who have done that same walk, and many other long distance events, using the Chi Walking technique without any injuries or pain.

We have a bunch of Instructors in the Seattle area:

You can also go to our Forum and browse topics/leave a message to get others’ opinions as well:

Best of luck, Jeanne. You’ll do great!


What do you think of walking poles?  I have read an article that claims to increase the exercise rate by using them?  Are they compatible with chi-walking?

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