I have had a couple of friends and coworkers complain of Plantar Fasciitis issues lately, so I thought this was something worth addressing. I’ve definitely had my bouts with PF over the years, so I know first hand how frustrating it can be. It is one of the most annoying and persistent injuries a runner can have because there isn’t a magic cure or pill you can take to treat it. There are however some tips to prevent it like homegrown treatment methods and stretches to help ease the pain.
If you’ve ever experienced stabbing heel pain as a runner, you’re most likely experiencing pain caused by Plantar Fasciitis. PF is caused when the Plantar Tendon or Plantar Fascia becomes irritated and inflamed. It’s usually the most painful in the morning or after long periods of inactivity because the tendon tightens up. In more serious cases of PF, your doctor may recommend a night split, steroid shots, shock wave therapy or surgery to treat the symptoms (Source here). In most cases though, doctors will recommend some simple stretches, DIY treatment methods and rest to get you back into tip top shape.
Runners are certainly the most susceptible group of people to get PF, but it definitely doesn’t stop there. Overweight people are also highly susceptible to PF because they are putting too much pressure on the Plantar Tendon. Similarly, people who wear shoes with inadequate support (think flip flops or broken down running shoes) or shoes with too much/not enough arch support for your feet are also prone to getting PF. People who stand for long periods of time or spend a lot of time walking can also get PF (Source here). It basically all boils down to the amount of pressure you’re putting on the Plantar Tendon or Plantar Fascia. If it’s a lot, whether it’s due to weight, improper footwear or heavy usage, your at risk for getting PF.
So how can I prevent myself from getting PF?
- Work on your running form. Don’t heel strike when running.
- Go to your local running store and get fitted for your running shoes to insure a proper fit and support level.
- Get new running shoes every 300-500 miles, depending on the durability of your shoes and the terrain you run on.
- Flip flops, broken down running shoes and high heels can trigger PF, so try to wear them as little as possible if you can get away with it. (I know this is hard for us ladies at work sometimes though!).
- Try to avoid uneven surfaces. Run/walk on flat surfaces whenever possible.
- Focus on improving the flexibility of the calf muscles and Achilles Tendon which pull on the Plantar Tendon and cause pain.
I already have PF. Now what?
- Fill a plastic water bottle 3/4 of the way with water, freeze it and use it frozen after a workout or long day to roll the bottoms of your feet to reduce inflammation.
- Put a golf ball under your foot when sitting and roll it around in the arch of your foot. (You can also freeze the golf balls for extra relief).
- Soak heals in ice water until the pain goes away.
- Get a deep foot massage.
- Stretch (See below for details).
What stretches can I do to help treat my PF?
- Flex your foot so that your toes are pointing toward your knee. This is especially helpful to do after sitting for an extended period of time.
- Stand on a curb or something similar. Place the balls of your feet on the edge of the surface and drop your heels below the edge to stretch out the tendon.
- The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society has also put together a great list of stretches for PF. You can find them here.
Want more information? Check out these links.
- Arch Enemy: Plantars Fasciitis from Runner’s World (Exercises to strengthen the muscles that can cause PF.)
- Mayo Clinic on Plantar Fasciitis
- Plantars Fasciitis Prevention Tips from Active.com
Questions of the Day:
Have you ever had PF?
What methods of treatment/prevention did you find most successful?
*Please note that these are tips and tricks that I have gathered through experience and research. I am not a doctor or medical professional, so make sure you consult your physician if you’re experiencing any medical issues.