Running is one of the most common forms of exercise in America. People of all ages and athletic abilities regularly lace up their shoes and go for a run. We've dedicated a series of blog posts to common running injuries and in our first post, we discussed runner's knee. Today, we'll take a look at another common running injury: plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue in the bottom of the foot that extends from the heel to the toes. The pain generally radiates from the heel or the arch of the foot and can feel like a dull ache or a sharp stab. Many people report that their pain is worst first thing in the morning.
Although runners with tight calf muscles and high arches are at the greatest risk of developing plantar fasciitis, runners with very low arches are also at risk. In both cases, the plantar fascia is stretched away from the heel, causing the inflammation and pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Other causes of plantar fasciitis include:
- Extreme pronation (foot rolls inward excessively) or supination (foot rolls outward excessively)
- Increasing mileage too quickly
- Long periods of time standing on hard floors, especially without supportive footwear
- Weak core muscles that lead to stride changes and increased pressure on the heel
- Worn-out shoes
Treatment and Prevention
Plantar fasciitis can be a chronic, nagging condition, often putting runners through a vicious cycle of improvement and relapse. For complete healing, it is usually necessary to stop running and rest. Recovery time can range from three months to a year, but six months is fairly typical. You can resume running when your feet are pain-free all day, including first thing in the morning, and you are able to walk barefoot on hard surfaces without pain. In addition to resting, runners suffering from plantar fasciitis should:
- Use anti-inflammatory medications and ice to help with pain. Rolling your foot over a frozen water bottle is a great way to ice the area and stretch out the connective tissue.
- Stretch and massage the calves and feet regularly. It is also helpful to strengthen the muscles of the feet and legs.
- Strengthen the core muscles. Core work should be a regular part of every runner's training routine because a strong core helps the body maintain proper form and prevent injury.
- Try pool running, swimming, and other low-impact forms of exercise to maintain fitness.
- Invest in a supportive pair of running shoes and consider arch supports or orthotics.
In short, take care of your feet and they will take care of you! Plantar fasciitis doesn't have to ruin your running career or keep you from the sport you love.
Have more questions about plantar fasciitis and other common running injuries? Contact us today!