Running: although it attracts a lot of passionate people and often becomes a lifestyle, it’s also the primary cause of sprain if done excessively, incorrectly, or even if you have a predisposition to certain injuries and a bit of bad luck. So, it’s not uncommon for novice and experienced runners alike to experience pain when running. It is important to know what causes it and how much it limits your ability to run further so that you can avoid overdoing it and exacerbating the problem.
In this article, we will talk about one of the most common problems runners face: plantar fasciitis. We will look at what it is, how much it affects your ability to run and how you can continue your passion safely.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the chronic inflammation of the plantar fascia, a wide line of fibers between your heel and the metatarsal heads. The most common point of inflammation is right at the base of the fiber band, in the center of the heel, but it has branches that can get painful on their own.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis:
The most common symptom is feeling pain in your heel when taking the first step out of bed in the morning.
Typical pain associated with plantar fasciitis is a sharp pain in the middle of your sole, along with the arch, or right in the middle of the heel.
Pain usually appears after prolonged sitting and seems to get better as you warm up your feet.
You may notice a hobble at first and then observe other symptoms.
Other signs that you might have plantar fasciitis are pains associated with wearing non-supportive shoes or walking barefoot. A tell-tale sign is a pain that is gradually decreasing as you warm up your feet.
How Likely Are You to Develop Plantar Fasciitis?
If you think that plantar fasciitis is an injury that only happens to runners, you might have a surprise. Even sedentary people can get it, especially if they have aggravating circumstances, like obesity or long working hours while standing.
Runners are more likely to develop this condition because of the forces associated with running. Novice and experienced runners alike are at risk of developing plantar fasciitis, no matter what their fitness level of experience is.
Wearing unsupportive shoes can also lead to plantar fasciitis, the worst of them being women’s high heeled shoes. Men’s dress shoes can also cause this injury, but there is an alternative for them and scheme of treatment that will allow you to wear your preferred style.
While studies have found many effective treatments that alleviate the pain and treat the injury, it is not yet fully understood what the actual causes are. Research indicates that some factors are more likely to lead to plantar fasciitis than others.
Poor ankle dorsiflexion was linked to the incidence rate of plantar fasciitis. That is why warming up your calves plays such a big role in treating and preventing injury.
But how are the calves connected to the sole pain? Well, the plantar fascia is a natural continuation of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel. That is why excessive calf tightness, combined with shocks to the heel (improper shoes or barefoot against hard surfaces, plus the high forces during running) can lead to extra tension in the band of tissue and even ruptures.
The shoes you wear can also play an important role in your likeliness to get plantar fasciitis. Walking barefoot or wearing unsupportive shoes exposes your heel to high shocks and forces. If you put too much tension on your fascia by standing for a long time or running on hard surfaces in improper gear, the plantar fascia will eventually become strained and possibly get inflamed.
How to Run with Plantar Fasciitis
Here are some tips and tricks to alleviate the pain from plantar fasciitis or prevent it as you go on with your running routine:
Warm up thoroughly, insisting on the calves. We suggest movements and stretches that rotate your ankles and gradually increase the elasticity of your ligaments and tendons.
Stretch your calves, ankles, and soles. Do it several times a day, to keep your feet flexible and to prevent a painful shock like standing after prolonged periods of being inactive.
Get new shoes if your old ones seem to be worn off, or get an orthotic insert to wear in your regular shoes.
Your doctor may recommend wearing a night splint.
After running, lift your foot as soon as possible and apply ice to your heel for 10-15 minutes at a time.
Monitor your body’s responses closely and react to any pain you have during running. Act immediately on any pain you have during or after running and interrupt or slow down your training. It is a terrible idea to push through the pain, even if plantar fasciitis pain can alleviate when your feet warm up.
While it can’t stand by itself as a singular treatment of plantar fasciitis, arch taping – also known as low-Dye taping – helps as a part of a treatment scheme. Search for the instructions on how to do it and make sure you pull the tape from the outside of the foot towards the inside.
Orthopedic Shoes or Inserts
Shoes are crucial in the treatment of plantar fasciitis as they can be part of the cause or part of the solution to the problem. Make sure you get proper supportive shoe when you deal with plantar fasciitis. That means cushioning for the heel and support for the arch of the foot. You can get custom-made orthopedic shoes or over-the-counter ones.
Stretching out your plantar fascia during the night using a night splint will help deal with that specific morning pain that usually leads to the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. The idea is to keep the ankle dorsiflexed during the night rest so that it does not move suddenly in a different way, putting tension in the plantar fascia. There are several types of night splints, from cast-like splints to knee socks.
Foam rollers or golf balls are good for massaging your sole and alleviating the pain from plantar fasciitis. Make sure you are gentle on your tissue and help it reduce the inflammation by applying ice to the area after massaging it.
While this is something you shouldn’t do by yourself at home, you can mention steroid injections to your orthopedist and discuss the possibility of using them to treat your plantar fasciitis. An alternative to injections is to apply dexamethasone or another corticosteroid through the skin, via iontophoresis, as it reduces the risks associated with injections.
How to Treat Chronic Plantar Fasciitis at Home
Although we encourage you to talk to your doctor about your problem, there are plenty of inexpensive, efficient measures that you can incorporate in your daily routine to treat plantar fasciitis at home. Here are some examples:
– Wear comfortable shoes;
– Apply ice to your heel, several times a day;
– Use arch taping;
– Stretch your feet;
– Include anti-inflammatory foods in your diet
The Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
The best way to start your short-term treatment of plantar fasciitis pain is to switch to supportive shoes, such as orthopedic shoes or shoes with orthotic inserts. You can purchase as they are or have them tailored to fit your foot perfectly. Your doctor will mention if you need custom made shoes or not.
Cushioned shoes are proven to alleviate pain in almost all cases. Reducing the power of the shocks to the heel will protect the fascia while it heals.
Shoes that offer good arch support are also highly recommended in dealing with plantar fasciitis, and they come in all shapes and styles, even dress shoes.
How to Get Back to Running?
If your plantar fasciitis was so severe that you had to interrupt your running, it could be demoralizing, but don’t be pessimistic. Our bodies can recover better than we think. If your pain increases when you run, it is definitely recommended to take a break, but if it stays in the mild range, warming up properly and wearing the right shoes can keep you going.
When going back to running after plantar fasciitis, always incorporate thorough calf stretching in every training session, as it will prevent it from coming back. You will be more prone to getting plantar fasciitis again, so never skip the stretching.
Living with plantar fasciitis, especially as a runner, can be very frustrating and limiting, but combining a few protective measures should work in most cases. Get checked by a doctor, to see how intensive the treatment should be and how much you must restrain from the effort. In most cases, plantar fasciitis is not bad enough to require a pause in your training routine, but wearing the right shoes and reducing the intensity of your runs helps tremendously.