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I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my feet. I love them for what they do for me (allow me to dance, train, get killer foot massages), but I hate how wide they are (my extrawide sneakers have to be ordered online), how beat up they look, and how they never seem to fit into a pair of heels. Yet what pains me the most is, well, the pain.

I have plantar fasciitis, a condition in which the tissue that runs along the sole of your foot, from the heel to the toes, becomes inflamed. “Most commonly, [plantar fasciitis] feels like a sharp stabbing pain on the inside heel of your foot,” Dana Canuso, MD, a podiatric surgeon, explained in an interview. And while working out every day and constantly being on my feet certainly doesn’t help, the pain can actually be worse when you’ve been sitting still for long stretches. “A hallmark complaint is that it hurts the worst the first step out of bed in the morning or when you stand up after sitting down for a while,” Dr. Canuso said.

After some kicking and screaming (and OK, crying) on my part, the therapist explained that I had a buildup of calcium deposits in my heels.

Not long ago, I went for a massage appointment, and after some kicking and screaming (and OK, crying) on my part, the therapist explained that I had a buildup of calcium deposits in my heels, likely from the plantar fasciitis, that would need to be released with time. So when I was given the opportunity to try some foam rollers from Gaiam a few weeks later, I immediately latched onto one designed specifically for the feet.

“Using a foam roller on inflammation has many benefits, including increased circulation to the area. This helps with tissue repair and myofascial release, which helps to ‘stretch’ the tightened, sore area,” Dr. Canuso explained.

Hopeful that my new friend would help ease the pain and even prevent it from flaring up again, I decided to give it a try. I rolled my feet for the first time the evening the foam roller arrived and noticed a difference in my arches right away. Rolling my heels was excruciating, which was to be expected this early on. But I kept at it for a week, and each time I rolled those pressure points, the tension and pain seemed to lessen a bit.

I’ll admit it hurt, but get this: I haven’t had a single flare-up from my plantar fasciitis since this foam roller arrived in the mail. Not one. I don’t know if I’m cured of plantar fasciitis or if I’ll ever have another painful episode again, but I haven’t felt any pain in my feet since I began using the roller each day after my workout as a preventative measure.

Before using the roller, I would climb out of bed and almost jump as my feet hit the ground, then move slowly around my apartment for about five minutes before the tension let up. Now, I get out of bed and walk naturally, without any discomfort. I can pound my feet in my workout classes and dance as much as I want with my friends on a Saturday night. I can speed walk when I’m running a little late (which is basically all the time). I’m not exaggerating when I say that it has changed my life — keep reading for a closer look.

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