Note from Ron: I am not a doctor, don’t play a doctor on TV, and have no plans to ever become a doctor. This article is meant to share my story and should, in no way, keep you from visiting a doctor for any issue you may have, including Achilles/bone spur issues. Also, the point of this article is meant to provide additional info for folks dealing with this sort of injury. If you’re not dealing with this sort of injury I’d still encourage you to skim the article in case you ever do!
Over the last month or so I’ve been battling what I thought to be Achilles Tendonitis which, in hindsight, was partially true. While I’m not 100% sure I am quite certain the issue was created by poorly fitting running shoes.
Initially, my doctor gave me instructions to not run or jump (which is how you must ask a CrossFit athlete to “rest”), to ice my Achilles several times a day, and to stretch the Achilles/calf several time a day.
I was a good patient and followed his instructions. Instead of running I spent A LOT of time on the rower and assault bike. Side note, if you ever need to know, for sure, if the devil really exists… just jump on an assault bike and go all out for 90 seconds. You will definitely realize the devil is real and that he actually manufactures assault bikes on the side.
After a few weeks of rest, ice, and stretching I went back and explained that things weren’t getting much better. In fact, I saw no improvement. At that point they did X-Rays and discovered that I had heel spurs on both feet. A heel spur is caused by the displacement of calcium on the bone. And once that area gets inflamed pain can be pretty constant (mine was).
Once the doctor figured this out he put me on a new treatment plan.
- More “rest” which meant more rowing and assault biking. Ugh.
- Continued stretching exercises (think calf stretching).
- Wear a night boot that positions the foot in a 90-degree dorsiflexion. I only have one night boot so I just alternate feet every night. This boot stretches the fascia (flat band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes). Side note: they tried to sell me a night boot for like $250. I asked the nurse if there were cheaper options. She said to try Amazon. I pulled my phone out and found one this one on Amazon for $22! She smiled when I showed her. Needless to say, I placed the Amazon order!
- Wear a special “orthotic” in my shoes that, apparently, helps to support the heel and plantar fascia.
- He also said prescription anti inflammatories could be used if I wanted.
So, with this new info and plan I was sent off for another two weeks. The only thing that bugged me was none of this seemed to be addressing the actual heel spurs that had formed.
So, I took to Google and did some research on whether heel spurs could be healed. The first article that popped up came from Dr. Axe, a functional doctor I REALLY respect. He’s also a former triathlete who has actually dealt with these sorts of injuries. Upon reading that article, and a few more articles from other functional doctors, I had a few more things to include to the above treatment plan including:
- Soaking my feet in a magnesium bath. I poured 1 cup of epsom salt into warm water and soaked/massaged my heels every night. Magnesium is an essential mineral for bone formation and utilizing calcium
- I drank 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar mixed with 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup of warm water. This is meant to adjust the pH of the body. Messed up pH levels can also lead to bone spur issues.
- I massaged my heels with coconut oil and Rosemary essential oil every night.
- I continued to take fish oil pills every morning (have done this for a long time).
- I started to supplement with both Vitamin B5 and Vitamin C.
It’s now been 2 weeks since starting this latest treatment plan. And, man, guess what? I am totally pain free! Unfortunately I haven’t had another X-Ray so I don’t know if there’s been any improvement to the actual heel spur. But, again, I have no pain at all no matter what I do (even a little test run I did… don’t tell my doc please). I’m hopeful my doctor will allow me to do X-Rays next time I visit.
So, even if you’re skeptical with the “natural” treatment plan I followed you can always try the “doctor prescribed” plan first. Then, if you’re not seeing the improvement you hoped for you can add in the functional treatment plan.
But, again, no matter what you should definitely see a doctor before any of this… just realize they will probably think you’re crazy when you mention magnesium baths and coconut oil if they have little to no functional medicine experience.
Until next time… be holy, eat clean, and do more push-ups!