Okay, that was a bad pun. I know, but hey, since I work at a running specialty store, I hear a lot of people complain about plantar fasciitis. It often feels like a soreness or tearing in the heel and arch. It seems like injuries go in waves and right now, a lot of people are riding this one! (Which makes up for all the times we’re riding the IT band injury wave.)
So what can you do about it? Make sure you’re in the right shoes to start with. You can even double check your gait if that will help. And if you are already in the right shoes (as in, you’ve had a gait analysis done somewhere and have shoes that complement your body’s stride whether you pronate or not), then ask yourself, “How old are my shoes?” If they look like this (see pictures), they are WAY past done! If they are a year old and you’re using them even semi-regularly and you’ve recently developed this (or any) injury, they’re done. They aren’t made to last forever even though they’re $100, so just know that going into it!
On active.com, Christine Dobrowolski, DPM, writes, “According to Running Research News, a million runners develop heel pain (plantar fasciitis) every year. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons has stated that heel pain has reached epidemic proportions in weekend athletes.
“This common condition is typically ignored, especially by athletes who tend to seek treatment only after the problem becomes severe. Starting treatment early will help prevent the problem from becoming chronic and limiting activity for 8 to 12 months.
“Plantar fasciitis is the tearing of a ligament on the bottom of the foot where it attaches at the heel. The tearing causes inflammation and the inflammation causes pain. Pain is felt at the bottom of the heel and sometimes in the arch and usually is the worst at the first step in the morning, but may also occur only during or after a run or activity. Plantar fasciitis is not typically caused by a direct injury or trauma, but commonly the result of running or walking in a worn-out pair of shoes, training on a new surface or adding hills into a routine.”
So if you’re in the right shoes and they’re new, then there are some other options.
First, the ever popular Hapad (which I just learned is pronounced hah-pad, not hay-pad; it’s true, call their corporate phone number), a sea foam green insert for your shoes that is designed to take pressure off the fascia as your foot presses against the raised material. Second, a product called Arch Aid, a fantastic wrap that you secure around your foot and can be worn more easily from shoe to shoe, especially in the summer when sandals and flip flops are the norm. It applies constant pressure as you move, not just as you walk.
No running, walking, treadmill or stairmaster. Cross-train by biking, swimming, yoga (no downward dog), or weightlifting (avoiding squats and calf exercises).
Take a sports water bottle, put it in the freezer and roll your arch over it for 20 minutes every evening.
Stretch your calf multiple times throughout the day. Use a belt or a towel to stretch your calf in the morning, BEFORE you get out of bed for 30 seconds to a minute. Perform the runner’s stretch (with both hands against a wall for support, extend one leg behind you, keeping that heel on the ground, and lean forward slightly to stretch your hamstrings/calves) as many times as you can throughout the day for 30 to 60 seconds.
And after all of this for a reasonable amount of time, don’t be afraid to see a podiatrist, physical therapist, or sports injury professional. You can definitely get rid of plantar fasciitis, just be patient, diligent, and proactive.