With running outside becoming a reality to most of us again, so come the aches and the pains as we up our mileage to get ready for that race that is just around the corner. One of the most common injuries to plague runners is plantar fasciitis. There are several factors to why this happens and a few options on how to fix it. One thing is for certain though, if you just ignore it, it will not go away on its own.
What is plantar fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is found on the bottom of the foot. When you develop plantar fasciitis, you have irritated or inflamed the plantar fascia. Whether you are walking or running every time you take a step you involve the plantar fascia. High arch and low arch people are equally at risk for forming plantar fasciitis. One of the biggest signs of plantar fasciitis is pain with the first step in the morning. This is the most common complaint of people suffering from plantar fasciitis. The pain may or may not subside by the end of the day, but it is worse in the morning. It is also generally tender to the touch along the inside of the foot on the bottom.
Steps to treat your plantar fasciitis
Ice. If you suspect you have plantar fasciitis, one of the first things you should do is ice. The best way to ice the plantar fascia is to fill a plastic water bottle with water and freeze it. Then roll that bottle under the bottom of the foot for 15 minutes at least once a day but doing it more than once will be beneficial. Make sure you roll the bottle from the top of the toes to the bottom of the heel.
Properly fitting shoes. Another thing that would help is getting fit for proper shoes. If you have done this recently, then you can skip this step. But if you have not, then this is a must because even if you wind up curing the plantar fasciitis and resuming running or walking in improper shoes, it will most likely come back. Having your foot evaluated while you are walking and having the correct shoe picked out will greatly help reduce the likelihood of it returning and will help you heal faster.
I realize that on the internet one of the most popular fixes is a special plantar fascia sock that you sleep with at night. Some people swear by them, while others have invested the money and it never really worked. The socks are not guaranteed to work for everyone and in order for them to work you must sleep with it on. So if you are someone that cannot sleep with a sock on at night this is not an option for you. It will not hurt you, but it may not work so you need to be aware of that. I usually do not recommend people get them because of their 50/50 success rate.
Wearing supportive shoes all the time is also important. This means a sneaker. No bare foot walking around the house, no flip-flops, no Uggs…it must be a shoe that has been fit for you. A properly fit shoe will help take the pressure off the plantar fascia and allow for the inflammation to calm down.
Stretches and massage. Certain types of stretches can also help alleviate the pain. The video below demonstrates a few stretches and massage techniques that can help. The first stretch is for the back of the leg, the calf. If you have a tight calf, this will cause it to pull on the heel, which will affect the plantar fascia. Having the calf at a good length will allow for the heel and foot to operate normally and not affect the plantar fascia.
The second stretch is purely for the plantar fascia. Having the foot pressed up against a table and stretching the bottom of the foot will help stretch out and decrease the pain in the plantar fascia. This may be very painful at first and that is okay, just stretch to the point of feeling discomfort not pain. As the plantar fascia stretches out, it will become easier to do.
The final demonstration in the video is the self-massage of the plantar fascia. In order to really get a good massage, using a spiky massage ball is best. A golf ball can be an okay substitute, a lacrosse ball will not get into the areas you need it to and a tennis ball will be too soft. The spikes will allow the tissue to be broken up and the knots that are in the plantar fascia to be diminished. Again this may be very painful in the beginning but it is something that you must continue to work at in order to be able to walk and run pain free.
Plantar fasciitis can go from something that is just an ache to a pain that makes it almost unbearable to walk in a short amount of time. That is why when you even suspect that you are starting to feel symptoms, you must treat it before it actually becomes full blown plantar fasciitis.