Plantar fasciitis is obviously one of the most common running injuries. You wake up in the morning one day and as you step out of bed you feel some pain in the heel. The pain goes away after a few minutes and it is only the next morning until you notice it again. You are sure that it is going to fade away like many other small running problems. After a week or two the pain is there whenever you get up on your feet and after a couple of weeks you find yourself hobbling to the bathroom in the morning. That is when you start asking yourself these annoying questions:
As you can tell you are not alone in there. We will answer most of these questions but first some background.
Plantar fasciitis is actually a disorder of the bottom of the foot. Usually is felt as heal pain but the pain can also be more towards the arch of the foot. It can happen in one or both feet and it can be very painful and restricting. Many people describe the pain as if they are walking on glass. Usually the pain is very strong as you get up in the morning and it starts to fade away as you become more active. But it comes back as soon as you rest and get up on your feet again. The main problem with the plantar fasciitis disorder (PF) is the wound of the plantar fascia, a connective ligament tissue at the bottom of the foot, that connects the heal bone to the toes. The plantar fascia is hurt with small microscopic tears that can cause inflammation and pain. These tears do not heal fast enough since we keep hurting them through our daily routine. The repetitive motion of long distance running put strain on the same part of the foot again and again until it gets injured and become PF.
There are many causes to plantar fasciitis pain and running is only one of them. The most common cause for PF in long distance runners is over training or doing too much too soon. The average recreational runner wants to do longer and faster sooner or … “no pain no gain”. Don’t feel guilty – we have all been there. Doing too much can be too many miles but also too many hilly courses or too strong intervals. Worn out shoes or wrong type of shoes can also cause PF. Tight calf muscles and Achilles tendon can pull the heel bone and stress the plantar fascia to cause fasciitis.
BUT don’t forget that there are more causes to the disorder and if you are running it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the only cause to your foot pain. What we are trying to say is that if you stop running you will not always eliminate all the causes to your PF. If you work all day long on your feet you will have to do more than just stop running to treat your PF.
A professional diagnosis is also something that you don’t want to skip. There are other causes to heel pain such as stress fractures, nerve entrapment and more. It is important that you will know for sure what is the problem of your feet.
There are many plantar fasciitis treatments most of them are easy and can be done at home. Consult your podiatrist for the right treatment to your condition. If you will start to treat your PF on time probably you will not need any kind of invasive treatment. Starting to treat PF sooner will give you a faster and easier recovery. The common treatment protocol may include RICE - rest, ice, compression, and elevation, physical therapy, stretching exercises, orthotics or inserts, night splint and the treatment that we like the most – taping. You can find a lot of info on our website about any of the above treatments. Most of the people that have PF will not need more than that. But you need a lot of patience and persistence to find the right treatment combination for you and keep on doing it until you get conceivable results. Yes - it takes time until you will get much better (months) and the average runner does not have the time for it because he wants to run, now, faster, longer…
Try to take your time. Try to find alternative cardio exercises so the spare energy will not blow your mind (swimming, aqua jogging and cycling are great) and take the time.
Usually a combination of a few of the above treatment techniques is the most effective – use more than one. Try the ones that work for you. Listen to your body and choose the treatment that will work for you. Continue with what makes you feel better. The treatment should not be painful for a long period of time. Be active until you will find the perfect treatment combination for you. When you will find this magic combination you will be half way over your PF. As you get better you can change your treatment combination into more preventive one and start to strengthen your foot.
As part of your treatment you and your doc will have to decide if you want to stop running for a while and take a rest or just reduce your exercises frequency and intensity. Yes it is possible to run with PF but it is risky. The risk is to get your foot much more injured and turn the plantar fasciitis into a chronic condition.
Whatever you decide to do – run or stop running – we urge you to seek professional help and more information about your condition. Your condition is individual and you must decide what is good for you. Don’t follow what others have done since they can have a completely different situation.
As your treatment goes along and the heel pain fades away you will go back to your old daily routine and PF will knock on your door. You may feel the old nagging heel pain tickling and you will know that a flare up is coming. There are many plantar fasciitis prevention measures and you can choose them guided by the treatment that worked for you.
So we were talking about symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention of plantar fasciitis in runners. Before we are going out to run again - There are more things to be said and we invite you to share your thoughts and experience in our forum, where we have a special thread about plantar fasciitis and running.
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