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Common Running Injuries: Plantar Fasciitis

Today we will cover plantar fasciitis – what it is, how it develops, how to treat it, and how to prevent them from happening. Plantar fasciitis is an injury that can take over a year to totally heal, so it’s important to make sure it’s prevented. After reading this, you’ll know what you need to do to make sure you avoid it.

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis (fa-she-eye-tis) is an overuse (surprise!) injury that occurs when the band of tissue on the bottom of your foot (the plantar fascia) becomes inflamed. The plantar fascia connects your heel to your toes and creates the arch of your foot.

How Do You Get It?

  • Overuse. Like most running injuries, overuse is the main cause. It can also happen more subtly to people who walk around as part of their jobs (ex. nurses, police officers, construction workers, retail employees).
  • Weight. Overweight people who are often are their feet are susceptible to plantar fasciitis. People who experience rapid weight gain are also prone.
  • Arch problems. People who have flat feet or extremely high arches put their plantar fascia under an unnatural stretch.
  • Tight Muscles. If you have tight calves and/or achilles tendons, you may be at a higher risk of developing plantar fasciitis

Symptoms

There are some unique symptoms to plantar fasciitis. Notably, some people have pain immediately when waking up in the morning, lessening as they begin to walk and stretch out the foot. The pain is usually located on the bottom of the heel and is usually characterized as being a dull ache. Climbing up and down stairs generally aggravates the symptoms. Along these lines, runners who try to run with this injury complain of severe pain when running downhill and worse pain at the completion of the run than during the run.

Treating

If you think you have plantar fasciitis, you should see a doctor. This is an injury that takes an extended amount of time to heal and failure to treat it can really make things extra difficult. Surgery is sometimes needed if you try to force your way through the pain or have severe structural issues with your feet.

  1. Ice. Use ice a few times per day, no more than 20 minutes at a time.
  2. OTC Medicines. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are usually used, although are limited in their effectiveness for this type of injury. They will help reduce swelling.
  3. Rest and Stretch. Stay off your feet as much as possible. You usually need to rest for an extended time period. Night splints help some people stay loose and reduce the pain and stiffness experienced in the morning.
  4. Rehab. Your doctor will usually prescribe physical therapy and will refer you to a center where you can begin treatment. At PT, you will do exercises to improve the strength and flexibility of your feet.
  5. Heel Lifts and Shoe Inserts. Using these helps reduce the pressure on your feet for some people, particularly ones who have structural issues with their feet.

Preventing

Here’s how to prevent plantar fasciitis:

  1. Learn proper running form. Proper running form can help you avoid overuse injuries.
  2. Get Flexible. Massage, foam rollers, and stretching are all things you can do to get your muscles loose. Pay attention to your feet, calves, and achilles tendon to help prevent plantar fasciitis.
  3. Increase your training slowly.  Moderation and caution is key to preventing overuse injuries.
  4. Warm up before you run and stretch afterwards. Warm up before your run to loosen up. Stretch afterward to improve your flexibility and reduce your recovery time.

Plantar fasciitis is an injury that can be extremely painful and take a full year to heal. It’s important to remember to stretch and take care of yourself when you run.

This is a post in a series of articles about common running injuries. These articles are purposely broad and intended for your education. Do not use this information as a substitute for doctor’s advice or a professional medical opinion. To see the entire series, click here.

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April 24th, 2012
Written By: Brett



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