Jenn Hicks

Plantar Fasciitis: How Nia Healed My Foot Problems

I used to run 5 days a week, averaging 50-60 kms each week.

Those were the days when I did a lot of high impact exercise: at that time I was also playing soccer, ball/ice hockey and doing step class.

Eventually, along with shin splints, I got plantar fasciitis, which caused me a great deal of heel pain. But despite the shin splints and foot pain, I continued my activities, giving in to the age-old “no pain, no gain” mantra and ignoring common sense.

Plantar fasciitis
Image via Wikipedia

Like many people, I went to see a podiatrist, and was prescribed orthotics. I know there is a great debate about orthotics, but at the time, I gave it a try. For a reason I can’t explain, they made my feet worse. So I ditched them and continued to “suck it up” and told myself that pain would just be part of my relationship to exercise.

Fast forward a year or so, when I was re-introduced to Nia. If you haven’t heard me say it before, I’ll say it again. When I was first introduced to Nia (about 11 years ago now), I decided that it was definitely NOT for me. The concepts of moving “The Body’s Way” (according to the design of the body) and “moving towards pleasure and away from pain” had no place in my exercise world. Back then, I believed that Jane Fonda and all the other fitness gurus knew what was best for my body. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that, perhaps, I was the expert in my own body and it’s needs, and not Jane and  her entourage.

But in 2006, when I did my Nia White Belt Training, I started to learn how my body was intended to move. It was NOT intended to pound up and down for hours at a time. I learned that in my running, I was actually stepping down first on the ball of my foot and that was wreaking havoc on my whole body.

As I began practicing Nia more, I began feeling my feet and what I was doing (Nia is practiced barefoot so that we can use the 7000 sensory nerves in the foot to sense discomfort and inform our movement choices). Added to that was the fact that I began to use the “heel lead” technique (when stepping forward, land first on the heel, then ball, then toes when stepping forward). Soon enough my aches and pains began to dissolve and I had no more symptoms of plantar fasciitis.

Using Nia techniques, I learned how to diffuse the impact of stepping and to pay attention to my feet and their improve their health and well-being! All while having fun and staying fit!

Learn more here:

Read more about self healing through Nia here

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4 Responses to “Plantar Fasciitis: How Nia Healed My Foot Problems”

  1. Abbie Fallaw says:

    kudos I’ve been fighting plantar fasciitis – plantar fasciitis support has been quite good. thanks !

  2. Christine C. emailed me today with this comment that I am posting here, since it’s a great one.

    “Hi Jenn

    Just found your website I am recently experiencing Plantar’s Fasciitis AND I do NIA about 2-3 classes/week. I noticed more pain in my heels after last Thursday’s class and haven’t been back to a class since then – and have an appointment today to see a podiatrist. When I googled the two terms (NIA and “plantars fasciitis”) I hit upon your site, which I am finding quite interesting.

    Thanks for an informative site!


    Here’s my response to her:

    “Hi Christine,

    Thanks for contacting me!

    I certainly can relate to your issues related to plantar fasciitis. I suffer on and off with it (more ‘off’ than ‘on’ now because of Nia).

    Now I know when I get it why I am getting it, and that’s mostly when I wear the wrong footwear and/or when I’m not paying attention to using the heal lead technique. As you read in the post, when we step forward, the body is designed to lead with the heel. I’m still, 10 years into this practice, working at reminding myself to use this technique as it’s my habit to walk on the balls of my feet (making my calves and therefore my heals tight). Take a look at the heal lead technique explained here (it’s a different video than is on the post you read):

    I have found that when I am conscious about using this technique in class, the outcome is brilliant.

    Also, I notice how difficult it is for people to really flatten their feet into the ground in class. Letting the foot really sink into the ground is so healthy for our feet, and helps me with not stressing out any one part of the foot by expecting it to bear too much weight. There are plenty of opportunities to do that: whenever you are stepping to the side or are in a 2 legged stance, it helps to really let your feet relax. That means that all for corners of your feet are touching the ground. I use lots of imagery to help me and my students with this:

    imagine your feet are like pancakes spreading into the ground
    imagine when you are stepping you have giant feet
    imagine that you are sinking into soft moss beneath your feet
    imagine your feet have tiny suction cups connecting you to the ground

    Take a look at this video about using the whole foot.

    Good luck! And keep moving — it’s through movement that we find health!


  3. […] many of the injuries we experience are, in fact, injuries to the fascia NOT the muscles. A common one is plantar fasciitis, which I have written about here. […]

  4. […] I was doing a lot of running, I experienced plantar fasciitis (I wrote about that and how I healed myself here). At the time, I was prescribed orthotics which […]

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