Plantar Fasciitis Prevention and Cure - Chi Running

Plantar Fasciitis Prevention and Cure

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Tue Apr 13th, 2010, 31 comments

I’ve been hot on the trail to get my hands on (and feet into) as many different pairs of minimal running shoes as I can so I can recommend the best shoes for midfoot strike running. (For my most up-to-date shoe recommendations please go to Running Blogs from Feb. 7th and March 26th.) I have to say it’s been fun, getting to wear lots of cutting edge running shoes with new designs and wild color schemes. My closet floor would be the envy of Imelda Marcos… but it has it’s downside. My feet don’t like to change running shoe brands that often. You know what it’s like. When your feet find a pair of running shoes that works well and feels great, it’s like a love affair between the two and not really something to be messed with.

Wearing lots of different running shoes in lots of different environments can leave me feet feeling sore on the bottoms. The last thing I need is a case of Plantar Fasciitis. So, yesterday, when I felt that all-too-familiar tinge of discomfort on the front of my heel I spent no time getting to the fix. I ran directly to a neighbor’s driveway which has a deep layer of crushed granite gravel covering a space about 6′ wide by 20′ long. As soon as I got there I took off my shoes (left my socks on) and began walking back and forth over the gravel. It’s a gnarly driveway and, as you can imagine, uncomfortable (a huge understatement) to walk on without shoes. After about 10 minutes of this self-inflicted torture I put my shoes back on and continued my run.

As predicted, it worked like a charm. All sense of any soreness on the bottoms of my feet was totally gone and, I might add, has never returned. In fact, my feet felt so alive and energized by my “torture walk” that I had one of the best runs I’ve had in weeks. My legs were much more relaxed and my feet we’re happy as little clams.

So, if you’re ever feeling even the slightest nuance of a case of PF coming on, I highly suggest you bite the bullet and find yourself a nice, lovely stretch of gnarly granite to walk across. If are already dealing with a full-blown case of PF it’s even more pertinent that you take matters into your own hands and short circuit the time you spend having to deal with one of the most persistent running injuries there is. This is one of those rare instances in my ChiRunning practice when I would agree with the old adage, “No pain…no gain.”



  • injury prevention,
  • midfoot strike,
  • plantar fasciitis,
  • running injuries

31 CommentsLeave a comment below

So my question to you is I was DX with PF but the refered pain is medial and back side of the heel will this help with all PF?

Hi Christina,
Sounds more like a heel spur than PF, but the only way to find out is by trying it. I know it works for PF, but I can’t speak definitively about its effects on other symptoms and injuries. Like I always say, “It can’t hurt to try.”  ...did I just say that? Well, it’ll only hurt a little bit…
All the best,

Danny, the walking on granite reminds me of those barefoot gardens that are in South Korea.

Are the recommended shoes listed somewhere?

Yes, they’re mentioned in Blogs from Feb. 7th and March 26th.

Piercing the feet (even though not penetrating the skin) might have the same effect as accupuncture. This read explains what happens when your skin is stimulated like that:

That sounds great! I’ll have to try that sometime.  It sounds a little bit like those foot roller massagers, only more random (and probably more effective).

On a semi-unrelated note… Does that mean we will get a new shoe list soon?

Hi Brian,
I’m working on updating the list. For now, go see the Feb. 7th and March 26th blogs for recommendations. Upcoming shoe reviews will be Mizuno Musha, Mizuno Ronin and later this summer, if I can get my hands on a pair, the new secret “super natural” flat from Newton.

ÐŽHola! - da mejor. Guardar va!


After four months of being pretty much sidelined by PF, this gives me a new “weapon” for my arsenal. I’m sitting here using the foot log as we speak ... it seems to have worked wonders (I’m finally running again - short, slow, but oh-so-sweet swings through the neighborhood); but if it flares again, I’m heading for the nearest gravel patch. Thanks for the tip.

Hi Danny,
For relieving Plantar Fasciitis, try rolling the bottom of your foot on a golf ball or tennis ball. Always start by stimulating the heel bone, to begin releasing the tendons, then rolling down toward the toes, massaging the bottom of the foot and finishing with a toe stretch on the edge of the ball. (I practice this routine 3-4 times a week to strengthen my feet, wear my VFFs all the time, and I never get PF anymore smile

Danny, standard PF is a result of the Achilles tendon and attached tendons becoming foreshortened.  This is often a result of sleeping on your back with your covers pulling your toes down or sleeping on your stomach having the same result. 

What I found that totally cured mine was to make sure the covers are loose at the foot of the bed.  That way, if I feel my feet are being pulled down at the toes I can adjust the covers or pull my feet out easily.

Happy Running,

Hi Robin,
Thanks for your suggestion. I have a friend who sleeps with a pillow at the foot of his bed (under the covers) and it creates a “tent” effect, so that the covers don’t pull his feet in to the PF shortening position.

Clynton Taylor Apr 21st, 2010 09:20am

Very interesting. So far so good running barefoot, but if that pain starts, I’ll give it a try. In fact, it sounds like a good idea no matter what. Thanks for sharing.

i had PF for 3 years and was only able to walk a few blocks before needing to sit because of the pain in my feet. i took a class in SF and by the first day i was jogging! amazing stuff you’re doing danny!

So does barefoot running or chi running have a negative effect on the plantar area?  I have never had problems before but my arches have been sore since I have started barefoot training.

Hi Hayley,
As I’ve said many times…just because you’re running barefoot, doesn’t mean that your running technique is good. You still need to practice running correctly or you could incur many of the same injuries that everyone else does. You might also have taken on too much mileage at first without letting your body get used to running barefoot. Take your time and let your body adapt more gradually.

Good luck,

Hey there, I have a recommendation for anyone starting out running, a golf ball, especially a tennis ball can work wonders on your sore spots, feet legs buttocks etc.  A tennis ball is still squishy enough for give but firm enough for deep tissue.  I have advanced to a foam roller, and although painful, it has worked wonders to have a prevention edge.

I’ve found something that works even better than golf or tennis balls for me - dryer balls, the spiky plastic balls you put in the tumble dryer. May have a different name in U.S.
Ever been running here in English Lake District Danny? Wet but wonderful.

Hi Andy,
I’ve been invited to run in the Lake District and I’d love to someday. I’ve seen pictures and it looks breathtaking!



This is the same thing that I experience, and why I have taken to barefoot/vibrams running.  I do all of my training runs in vibrams now, and don’t have any PF, which had been getting pretty bad.  I still race in flats and may get in an occasional run in traditional sneakers, but that has become far more the exception to the rule.  Thanks!

I have a combination of PF and tarsal tunnel syndrome. I wear a night splint,orthotics, done physical therapy, use Voltaren Gel and just got a cortisone shot. Have not run or walk since February because it’s too painful and tingly. Any experience or ideas I could try?

Hi Dona,
Have you tried the remedy I suggested. It works.

Phyllis Howard Jul 7th, 2010 02:08am

Hi Danny—I so loved your comments about using the gravel driveway to help your feet. 

I had the great pleasure of taking part in one of your week long sessions at Kripalu during the Memorial Day week in 09.  I loved the week… wanted it to last a life-time and I am making that happen by staying connected by reading your monthly newsletters. 

I tried your recommendation of walking on a gravel path and it works!!  My next door neighbors have a gravel pathway in their back yard and while I’m sure they think I’m a little nuts, they’re happy to allow me the therapeutic benefits of walking in my stocking feet on their crushed stone paths!  It works so well too!

Thanks for the practical tip on this… you’re always suggesting things that make use of the resources around us to help keep us healthy!

BTW—at the workshop, you showed us a tai-chi exercise (is that what you call it?) that we practiced by the pond.  The movements were in one of your books but for the life of me, I can’t seem to find it.  I have the newest book but I’m thinking it might have been in the first book (which I gave away).  Could you do a video of this movement?  Thanks!


Check out the stretches in “Pain Free” by Peter Egoscue.  So simple. My 7 year on/off bout with plantar faciitis was gone in a week.  You should continue the stretches for prevention.

wandering sage Jul 13th, 2010 05:45pm

Two important ways to care for your feet…
1. Soak your feet in hot/warm water each night before you go to bed. The heat will bring considerable relief to your feet and prepare them for #2.

2. Massage your feet after soaking them. Taking time daily to massage your feet is a practice that reintegrates your feet back into the whole of your body. Too often we neglect the parts of our body that hurt. Massaging the area encourages blood flow to the area and stimulates the body’s natural healing ability.

Hi Danny, I’ve had pf for over 4 months, no tennis, no badminton,...nothing, well golfing in a cart. I’ll try the gravel march, hope it works.
Thanks, Tom

Hey, Tom
I like the term “gravel march.” It’s not fun, but it’s certainly effective!

I’m intrigued by your gravel solution.  Can you tell me how/why it works?

Hi Amie,
It works by placing a lot of pressure onto very small points on the bottoms of your feet which works to break up adhesions that can restrict the natural movement and resiliency of the plantar fascia.

Thanks for asking,

I had a bad case of this many years ago and of course the doctor said I needed to quit running. And I did for some time. My marathon training and the race had brought it on. I sent for a strap that was supposed to allow you to run with the problem and when it came, I thought I got ripped off. It worked. I used it for a long time and finally the problem has seemed to disappear.

Wish I could tell you what it was but I found the ad in my runner’s magazine. Anyway that and other injuries is what eventually made me look into chirunning and I’m glad I did.

Danny, does the gravel need to have sharp edges? There are river-rock gravel beds at my workplace with rounded edges. I tried walking on these barefoot and it hurt but I’m not sure it gave me a benefit. I didn’t try it very long, though. Maybe the rocks are too big, also.

Hi Glen,
Yes, rounded river rock will not work as well as crushed rock (sorry to say) and you have to walk for at least 5-10 minutes for any effectiveness. You can tell you’ve had a good walking session when you put your shoes back on and your feet feel relaxed and soft on the soles.

In addition to Danny’s gravel march, I find that stretching the toes backwards helps (see windlass mechanism).  Stretch calf, soleus and then the same position with the heel elevated so the toes are stretched.

Marcos Castillo May 6th, 2011 10:42am

Thank you for your blogs.  I have a question.  I started training with ChiRunning last spring with an instructor in Wilmingtom, NC.  She taught me alot that I needed to see from your book.  I recently moved to another state because of the military and I am having pain from the fore foot to heel and also the achilles tendon areas, on both feet.  I have been told by 3 different doctors 3 different things. Plantar Fasciitis, Hell Spur, or Tenosynovitis.  I have been stretching, icing, and even taken pain medications, but the pain will not go away.  I have not tried the gravel thing yet.  Is there a reason why doctors do not suggest this?  If you have any other suggestion, please let me know.  Thank you.

Danny Dreyer May 17th, 2011 03:59pm

Hi Marcos,
Check out this blog too:

I’m not sure doctors know about the gravel idea, or they may be weary of it’s success in reducing pain. It’s helped me, though, so I can vouch for it. Be sure you’re always wearing shoes (unless walking on gravel), even in the shower (crocs are good)! Sorry to hear you’ve been suffering so much. We do have Instructors in Florida who may be willing to travel. I would suggest emailing one that is closest to you. Hope this helps some.

Plantar Fasciitis Jun 28th, 2011 01:29pm

I used to have plantar fasciitis as well. But not anymore


I am intrigued by the barefoot running. I have had bilateral PF for 3 years, have tried all the conservative stuff and not run for 2 years. I have orthotics and regular shoes. I have high arches and I over pronate. I get massages every couple weeks to work out the knots, but they keep coming back w/ standing, walking, biking, etc. I have also developed a bad case of post tibial tendon dysfunction in Left led and think its starting in right. I have always been injury prone but running is my favorite thing to do. Do you think I am a good case for barefoot running? I was thinking that once my tendon gets better, I would try walking in minimalist shoes and eventually barefoot running.  Any other suggestions?

William Prowse Jun 18th, 2013 12:43pm

Reminds me of why foot rollers are so good. Massage works for plantar fasciitis! If someone has extreme or chronic plantar fasciitis, the gravel will irritate the heel badly.

Help My foot is killing me. I’ve been diagnosed w plantar fasciitis. I’m on my feet all day at work. Can anyone recommend a shoe for me

I was diagnosed with this annoying painful injury about 2 years ago. I definitely learned my lesson about wearing the proper shoes with some arch support.

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