A common condition among runners, Plantar Fasciitis, is caused by repetitive strain on the thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes (known as the plantar fascia). It can cause pain in your heel or arch when walking or running. The pain can be sharp or dull and may worsen after exercising or walking. In this article, we provide top tips from our Physiotherapist JV and Podiatrist Monica Lima on how runners can prevent and treat Plantar Fasciitis if and when it arises.
The most common Plantar Fasciitis symptom is a sharp heel or arch pain when walking or running.
Other symptoms may include stiffness in the bottom of your foot, swelling, redness, and tenderness on the bottom of your foot near your heel.
If you think you may have Plantar Fasciitis, please seek a professional diagnosis. This article is intended as a helpful guide.
Approved by our superstar Physiotherapist JV and Pdiatrust Monica Lima, we offer our top tips on how runners can try to prevent Plantar Fasciitis and how to treat it if it arises.
Support Your Feet
The right footwear is essential. The best way to prevent plantar fasciitis is by supporting your feet properly with supportive shoes and arch supports. The right shoes will provide cushioning and arch support, reducing stress on your feet when running or walking. Additionally, you may want to invest in custom orthotics.
A biomechanical assessment of the foot and gait analysis can also help identify individuals who would benefit from orthotic intervention, and footwear advice can be provided. An investment worth making from the beginning!
Warm Up Before a Run
Next, it’s time warm up the body. Spend at least 5 minutes warming up. Focus on dynamic stretches that activate hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, as these will help prepare them for impact during running activity.
And, of course, be sure to include some plantar fascia stretches.
Daily Conditioning Exercises
Stretching exercises can also help reduce the risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
A few commonly-used stretches include the towel flexor, standing calf stretch, wall press flexor, and seated stretch. The towel flexor stretch involves looping a towel around your foot and pulling gently upward to create a downward pull on your plantar fascia ligament.
For the standing calf stretch, you’ll want to stand facing a wall while keeping your heels flat on the ground. Next, toe walks towards the wall while keeping your heel on the ground until you feel a mild pull in your arch.
The wall press flexor requires you to lie on your stomach with one leg pressed against a wall to push into it and feel resistance in the plantar of that foot.
Lastly, for the seated stretch, you should sit comfortably with both legs outstretched straight in front of you and wrap a cloth band or belt around one foot before lightly pulling its ends with both hands for 10-15 seconds at a time.
Careful when changing your training environment
If you’re used to repeatedly running on the same route, a sudden change can trigger an injury such as Plantar Fasciitis. For instance, we commonly see patients having an onset of plantar fasciitis when going on a beach holiday and walking/running barefoot or with flip-flops on the soft sand.
In this last case, our advice would be to limit how far you’ll be walking/running in the first days to let a chance to your body to adapt to this new environment.
If you have Plantar Fasciitis, there are still ways you can keep running without making it worse.
Start gently with short runs and gradually build up over time as your body adjusts to the activity again.
Make sure that you wear supportive shoes that fit properly. Cushioning, such as insoles, can also help reduce pressure on your feet while running.
Additionally, follow the earlier advice and ensure you warm up before any run and always stretch after each session to further reduce tension on your feet from running.
Cross-training helps strengthen different muscles and ligaments that might not be used during regular runs or other exercises. This can help prevent injuries from overuse or repetitive movements and keep things fresh and interesting!
Cross-training activities like cycling or swimming are great options for maintaining overall fitness without putting too much strain on your feet and legs.
Ice After Running
Ice is a great way to reduce inflammation after your runs and help with pain relief.
Try icing your feet for 15 minutes after each run to reduce inflammation in the affected area and speed up the recovery time from any existing injuries you may have had before taking preventive measures against Plantar Fasciitis.
It depends on how severe your pain is, but resting for 1-2 weeks should be enough for mild cases.
It could take up to 6 weeks for more serious cases before you can resume regular activity, depending on what treatments have been recommended by medical professionals.
If you experience sharp pain, stop immediately and seek advice from a medical professional about treatment options for Plantar Fasciitis.
As always, prevention is the best cure. But if you are experiencing sharp or persistent pain, it may be time to seek professional medical advice from a physiotherapist or podiatrist to check for other underlying issues. The earlier the treatment starts, the better the outcome, so don’t delay!
Cutting-edge technology like Radial Shockwave Therapy has also been proven to have amazing results in the fast recovery of Plantar Fasciitis. It stimulates the blood flow and thus increases the healing and recovery – allowing you to return to running sooner. Learn more about Shockwave therapy here.
May 10th 2022
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