DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 47-year-old woman who has been physically active for the past 28 years. I walk, run, cycle and use an elliptical machine. Last summer I suffered with plantar fasciitis, and it took six months to recover from. Now the plantar fasciitis is back. It’s worse after sitting for some time, and the tops of my feet hurt. What can I do? – D.J.

I am not sure why the tops of your feet hurt. Could it be too-tight shoes? I can help with the plantar fasciitis, though.

The plantar fascia is a band of tough tissue that stretches from the front, bottom of the heel to the bottom of the toes. It provides support for the feet. Constant pounding on hard surfaces inflames the fascia – plantar fasciitis. It happens to many athletes. It also happens to older people whose plantar fascia has lost its elasticity.

The first step out of bed in the morning is a thing of great pain. People with plantar fasciitis feel like a knife has penetrated their heels. The same thing happens after sitting for a prolonged time.

In the early stages of inflammation, resting the heel by not running or jumping is essential. Resting does not mean total inactivity. Complete inactivity will make the fascia stiff and compound the problem. Icing the heel for 10 to 15 minutes, three times a day, helps. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – Aleve, Advil, Motrin – ease pain and reduce inflammation.

Heel pads, silicone heel cushions, silicone shoe inserts and shoes with soft soles like crepe soles protect the fascia. Orthotics – specially made shoe inserts – are especially useful. A splint that keeps the foot pointed upward during the night speeds healing. Sometimes a shot of cortisone into the heel will be needed.

Stretching is the way to stop recurrences. While sitting, put the right foot on the left knee. Grab hold of the toes with the right hand and bend the foot toward the shin. Hold the bend for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times, and do the exercise three times a day. This exercise should keep you free from plantar fasciitis.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: While caring for my mother for a month, I read your column in the local newspaper (I live in a different state) every day. I loved the one where you gave a recipe for making a sports drink. My husband and our sons work outside and lose a lot of water in sweat. I can’t find the clipping. Will you repeat it? – G.G.

Sure. It’s not my recipe. I don’t know who devised it.

In an 8-ounce glass, put 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon sugar and a pinch of salt. Then fill the glass with cold water and stir. This drink provides carbohydrates for energy and replaces salt lost through sweating.

I hope your mother sees this and sends it to you.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My son is an avid athlete. He has been buying milk-based sports drinks. What do you think of them? Are they as good as the ads say they are? – R.B.

I can’t tell you if they’re as good as the ads, because I haven’t seen the ads. But the drinks are good. They provide protein, calcium and vitamin D. You don’t find those ingredients in many drinks. Most of them also have a good supply of carbohydrates.

A drink with these ingredients is particularly good after heavy exercise. The protein in it enhances muscle recovery and muscle building. The carbohydrates replenish muscle glycogen — muscle sugar, so necessary for muscle action.

I don’t know the number of calories in your son’s drink, but usually such drinks have enough to promote weight gain, something desired by many young athletes.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have what the doctors call black hairy tongue. Can you tell me about it? – Anon.

Black hairy tongue, aside from its looks, is an innocent condition that comes from the elongation of tongue papillae, tiny projections from the tongue’s surface. Gently brushing the tongue three times a day with toothpaste, baking soda or 3 percent hydrogen peroxide can usually get rid of it. If it’s not gone in a month, return to the dentist or doctor for a follow-up exam.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from

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