Plantar Fasciitis for runners can be one of the most stubborn and re-occurring injuries, leading to months of pain and time off from running.
If you’re worried that you may have developed the dreaded plantar fasciitis, don’t worry.
It can be treated, and you can run again!
Here’s everything you need to know about plantar fasciitis, including –
what it is,
how to treat it,
and how to minimise your downtime and optimise your recovery.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis refers to inflammation in the bands of tissue that run from your toes to your heel.
This band is very thick and supports the arch of your foot.
It is what allows you to walk and run.
However, when the fascia becomes inflamed, it causes pain.
photo credit: Injurymap
What are the Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
Heel pain is the most common symptom of plantar fasciitis for runners.
However, you may also experience pain in the middle of your foot.
The pain can be dull, burning, or stabbing.
A telltale sign of plantar fasciitis is if you feel pain as soon as you stand up when you wake up in the morning.
This is usually a stabbing pain that you cannot ignore.
You may also experience this pain when you stand up after sitting for long periods.
Ironically enough, you don’t always feel pain from plantar fasciitis when you’re running.
However, as soon as you stop, it is very painful to walk.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is caused by putting too much pressure on the fascia.
When you run, especially long distances, you put a lot of pressure on your foot. If you’re in marathon training, make sure to follow a good marathon training plan which will gradually increase your total mileage in manageable chunks.
If you are a woman or have improper running form, then you are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis.
Being overweight is also a risk factor.
You may also develop plantar fasciitis if you wear old shoes or those with poor support.
Tight Achilles’ tendons and structural abnormalities with your foot, like having flat feet, can also lead to plantar fasciitis.
Preventing Plantar Fasciitis
The best way to prevent plantar fasciitis for runners is avoid over-loading your mileage when you start running.
Be mindful of how quickly you increase your mileage.
Follow the 10% rule and only add 10% more miles every week.
Look for shoes that provide excellent support for your specific foot and gait.
In addition to this, be mindful of the surfaces you run on and how you run.
Running on very hard surfaces and up and down hills can aggravate your plantar fascia.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis for Runners
Rest, of course, is the best treatment for plantar fasciitis.
This can be very difficult to do if you’re a runner, but taking a few days off can make a big difference in how quickly you heal.
You can take over the counter pain relievers and ice the area three times a day to deal with the pain as well.
Physical therapy is the best way to treat the cause plantar fasciitis.
Stretching and strengthening your foot, Achilles’ tendon, and lower leg muscles can help treat and prevent future cases of plantar fasciitis.
Using some type of pressure or massage on your heel can also treat plantar fasciitis.
This can be as simple as rolling a hard ball, like a golf ball or a lacrosse ball, to using shockwave therapy to target the injured tissues.
Both of these treatments work to loosen the tendons and decrease pain.
Here are some great PF stretches, courtesy of Jodi Bar at the Cleveland Clinic:
If your plantar fasciitis doesn’t seem to heal, your doctor can give you a steroid injection.
They inject the medicine into the most painful part of your heel and will reduce inflammation for several months. It will also help relieve your pain for about a month!
In extreme cases, your doctor may recommend doing the Tenex procedure. In the Tenex procedure, your doctor makes a small cut in your heel and then uses ultrasound waves to find and remove scar tissue in your heel.
Your doctor may also recommend surgery. In plantar fasciitis surgery, the plantar fascia is detached from the heel bone. You may need to wear a boot or brace after this to keep the area stable.
How to Keep Running if you have Plantar Fasciitis
If you have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and want to keep running, you are not alone.
There are a few ways you can speed up the healing process and ensure that you aren’t putting too much pressure on your fascia when you aren’t running.
First, you can invest in special arch supports, or orthotics, that go in your shoes.
These can help correct your form and provide support to your arch. It will help relieve the pain that happens after your run.
You can also use a night splint or brace while you sleep.
This will stretch your calf and lengthen both your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia.
Night splints go a long way for relieving pain, especially that painful first step in the morning!
Finally, be sure to stretch your Achille’s tendon and plantar fascia regularly.
Stretching your calf muscles also helps. This will help relieve pain and keep you from aggravating your injury. Try to stretch at least three times a day.
How to Tape for Plantar Fasciitis
Another way to keep running is to use kinesiology tape.
It can prevent pain and worsening of the condition, but please note that it won’t address the underlying cause of the pain.
You’ll need one long strip and two short ones.
Begin by placing one end of the long piece of the tape on the ball of your foot.
Anchor it there and then lay it along the middle of your foot, over your heel, and up your Achilles tendon.
Next, take the short piece and place it on the outside of your foot, so that the top of the piece lays over the painful area of your heel.
Stretch it across your foot until it reaches the inside of your ankle.
Then, take the second piece and place it above this area.
The bottom of this piece should also be over the area of pain.
Plantar fasciitis for runners is a painful and stubborn condition, but you can heal from it.
If you start to feel pain in your heel after your runs or first thing in the morning, then take a break from running.
You can substitute other, low impact, forms of cardio like swimming and cycling.
Be sure to tape, stretch, use braces, and take medication as needed.
With a little time and care, you’ll be free of plantar fasciitis!