Plantar fasciitis is an injury that strikes fear in the heart of runners all ages and abilities. It plagues every one of all fitness and backgrounds levels, from the beginner to the elite.
In fact, the condition is so common in the running community that it is often referred to as ‘Runners Heel.’
Eighty percent of cases of heel pain—as well as 1 in 10 cases of all running injuries—occurs thanks to plantar fasciitis.
Here’s the good news.
There are plenty of things you can do to ease the symptoms and protect your heel against injury.
Here are a few.
What’s the Plantar Fascia?
To fully understand what plantar fasciitis is about, you need to understand plantar fascia.
Located on the underside of the foot, the plantar fascia is a thick band of fibrous tissue that extends from the inside edge of the heel to the toes, creating the arch of the foot.
The plantar fascia provides support to the arch, offers shock absorption and cushioning while walking and running, allows you to flex and point your toes, among many other vital functions.
The injury known as plantar fasciitis occurs when the fascia becomes inflamed—usually because of overuse.
The inflammation manifests as heel pain that can vary from mild to sharp, usually at the region where the band connects the plantar tendon to either the base of the toes or the heel bone.
This condition can sideline any runner, from the recreational jogger to the elite marathoner. It’s, in fact, a recurring runner nightmare.
In most cases, the pain is worse in the morning, as the fascia contracts overnight, which can make standing first thing in the morning painful.
Preventing Plantar Fasciitis When Running
Treatment may take up to a months-long combination of rest, ice, rehab, and even medication. That’s why you’re better off not getting injured in the first place.
When it comes to dealing with plantar fasciitis, the adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” couldn’t be more true.
Keep on reading to learn more about protecting your plantar fascia and preventing any future pain.
1. Roll Your Plantar Fascia
A great measure to soothing fascia pain and preventing injury is rolling your foot over a cold-water bottle, especially following a run.
This helps keep the inflammation in check while staying loose.
Get a frozen bottle of water and roll it under your foot for 5 to 10 minutes following a run, paying special attention to your arch.
Place good pressure on each spot—the medial, center and lateral positions—for 20 to 30 seconds before moving to the next area.
2. Stretch Your Plantar Fascia
Calf tightness could contribute to the onset of plantar fasciitis.
Tightness in both your Achilles and plantar fascia can pull on the plantar fascia, irritating and enfeebling its attachment to the bone.
Perform these stretches several times a day, especially right away in the morning or following a run. A great routine would be three or five sets of 20 to 30 seconds.
Here are some of the stretches you need to be doing:
Run On Soft Surfaces
According to many experts, running on hard, uneven, surfaces can increase the risks of injury—plantar fasciitis is no exception.
Opting for softer running surfaces reduces the impact and stress your feet absorb as they strike the ground—thus less inflammation and stress to your fascia.
Staying on even surfaces reduces your risks of landing wrong and straining or twisting a tendon or ligament.
That’s why, whenever possible, try running on soft, even surfaces. Go for well-groomed path in the park instead of the sidewalk.
Improve your Running Form
Your form also matters for preventing plantar fasciitis.
Theoretically, overpronation, or landing with a severe heel strike, may put extra stress on your plantar fascia, increasing injury risk.
That’s why you should pay attention to your foot pronation and the way your feet are landing throughout the running gait.
Try landing evenly on the middle of your foot instead of the heel. This should minimize the impact to your heel while keeping your plantar tendon relaxed.
Check out some of my blog posts on tips for improving your running technique.
Wear the Right Shoes
Your running shoes should offer plenty of support across the entire foot. They should cushion your heel with a thick sole, and don’t allow your heel to move around.
Remember to replace your running shoes every 400 to 500 miles since their structure wears down over time.
Your casual shoes also matter. Avoid heels that strain your arch during daily activities.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
This should go without saying, but it’s so important that I feel like I have to add it to the list here.
Any sudden or chronic weight gain can contribute to the onset of plantar fasciitis.
When you carry extra pounds, you’re putting a lot of strain on your heels, plantar fascia ligament as well as the arch and ball of your foot. This causes inflammation, pain, and eventually, may lead—or contribute—to the onset of plantar fasciitis.
Add to this the fact that your feet can absorb up to two and a half times your body weight while running. The faster you run, the more strain your feet take in.
In other words, for every ten pounds of weight, you’re getting 25-pound of impact.
Losing that weight can minimize the load on your plantar fascia ligament and the other structures that support your feet.
Strength training has been shown to aid in the prevention of many overuse injuries. Again, runners’ heel is no exception.
By strengthening the muscles surrounding your midfoot, you’ll be able to provide more support to the whole structure, reducing your risks of injury in the process.
Here are a few of the exercises you need
Toe Spread & Squeeze
Know Your Limits
One of the best things you do to prevent overuse injuries—not just plantar fasciitis—is to listen to your body and train accordingly.
Pay attention to any red flags of fatigue and soreness as much as you focus on pursuing your running goals.
Whenever you’re trying to increase your weekly mileage, do so slowly and gradually—doing too much too soon places too much stress on your feet, resulting in injury.
There you have it
The above measures are some of the best you can implement right now as a part of your running routine to help reduce the risks of developing plantar fasciitis.
If you suspect you have plantar fasciitis—or any other overuse injury—visit your doctor or physical therapist for an evaluation.
The best way to determine the culprit behind your pain and provide a quick path toward full recovery is by doing a full examination of the biodynamics of your ankle, foot, and gait.
As a runner, your feet are your best ally. They take wherever you want to go. But you have to take good care of them to lead a healthy, active life. The rest is up to you.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.
Keep Running Strong.