Plantar Fasciitis and Running:

The Plantar Fascia is a broad, dense fibrous connective tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. The plantar fascia is designed to support the foot and form the arch. Under normal circumstances, your plantar fascia acts like a shock-absorbing bowstring, supporting the arch in your foot. If tension on that bowstring becomes too great, it can create small tears in the fascia. Repetitive stretching and tearing can cause the fascia to become irritated or inflamed.

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain and it commonly causes stabbing pain that usually occurs with your very first steps in the morning. Once your foot limbers up, the pain of plantar fasciitis normally decreases, but it may return after long periods of standing or after getting up from a seated position.

Plantar fasciitis is particularly common in runners. In addition, people who are overweight, women who are pregnant and those who wear shoes with inadequate support are at risk of plantar fasciitis. It is also common in occupations that require you to be on your feet and especially if the surface you are standing on is hard, such as factory workers. Other factors that can have an influence are improper shoes and faulty foot mechanics.

Ignoring plantar fasciitis may result in chronic heel pain that hinders your regular activities. You may also develop foot, knee, hip or back problems because of the way plantar fasciitis changes your walking. Common problems including shin splints, patella tendonitis and ITB syndrome. Continuous pulling of the fascia at the heel bone eventually may also lead to the development of bony growth on the heel. This is called a heel spur.

Running Injury Management Tips:

  • Put your feet up. Stay off your feet for several days when the pain is severe.
  • Apply ice. Hold a cloth-covered ice pack over the area of pain for 15 minutes three or four times a day or after activity. Or try ice massage. Freeze a water-filled paper or foam cup and roll it over the site of discomfort for about five to seven minutes. Regular ice massage can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Decrease your distances. You probably won’t have to permanently retire your running or walking shoes, but it’s a good idea to cover shorter distances until pain subsides.
  • Take up a no- or low-impact exercise. Swap swimming or bicycling in for walking or jogging. You’ll likely be able to return to your regular activities as heel pain gradually improves. However, some people find that the only way to avoid a recurring problem is to give up high-impact activities, such as running and some forms of dance.
  • Add arch supports to your shoes. Inexpensive over-the-counter arch supports take the tension off the plantar fascia and help absorb shock, or if you want to invest more in a good pair of custom orthotics go see your local podiatrist. Also make sure that your runners are not too worn out as they will generally cause you more problems; general rule of thumb is 600km until a new pair is required.
  • Stretch.Simple exercises using household objects can stretch your plantar fascia. Also try using a rubber bouncy ball or a golf ball to help release certain tension points in the muscle. Simply do this by having the ball on the ground and apply pressure directly onto it where it is sore. Also stretch your calfs and hamstrings as these muscles will have an impact on the plantar fascia.
  • Treatment. Go see your local osteopath for pain relief and for a speedy recovery.

Prevention of Plantar Fasciitis:

You can take some simple steps now to prevent painful steps later:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. This minimises the stress on your plantar fascia.
  • Choose supportive shoes. Avoid high heels. Buy shoes with a low to moderate heel, good arch support and shock absorbency. Don’t go barefoot, especially on hard surfaces.
  • Don’t wear worn-out athletic shoes. Replace your old athletic shoes before they stop supporting and cushioning your feet. If you’re a runner, buy new shoes after about 600 kilometres of use, as uneven wear can develop.