If you run regularly and feel pain in the heel of your foot, then there’s a chance you might be suffering from plantar fasciitis. This is a common overuse injury that can affect your running and training.
What is Plantar Fasciitis
Every time your foot hits the ground, it absorbs the impact of about two and a half times your body weight. Add that up over hundreds of kilometres, your feet might get tired, and runners get injured often in the lower legs. That’s why the feet are some most injury-prone areas in a runner’s body. Plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis are some of the most common injuries. The plantar fascia consists of a band of deep tissue that stretches from the heel bone to the toes. The band supports the arch and provides shock absorption and cushioning when standing, walking and running. It also allows to point and flex the toes. Plantar fasciitis is deformation or a tear of this band of tissue, and it’s one of the worst running nightmares.
The most common issues that cause plantar fasciitis:
- High arches
- Flat feet
- Sudden increases in training intensity/distance
- Weight gain
- Non-fit running shoes
- Bad running form
- Not enough post-run stretches
How to Prevent and Relief Plantar Fasciitis Pain
Choose Good Running Shoes
If you have plantar fasciitis, running shoes with plenty of arch support, shock absorption, cushioning, and a deep heel cup will help alleviate foot pain as well as avoid it in the future. You may add a shock-absorbent insole for extra comfort. Look for running shoes that suit your foot type and biomechanics and avoid flat running shoes. If you run often or long-distance, replace your running shoes on a regular basis (usually every 600 to 800km) because the structure of the shoes even if we can’t see it, can wear down over time.
Plantar fascia pain is mostly caused by swelling, turning to ice therapy can help soothe pain and reduce inflammation, especially if symptoms persist. Hold an ice pack over the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes three or four times a day. You can also roll the affected foot over a frozen water bottle for a few minutes. Also, remember to ice your foot right after running or extended periods of standing or sitting.
7 Stretches to Release Plantar Fascia
Plantar fasciitis might be caused by tightness in the muscles surrounding your feet, causing tension and leading to pain beyond the heel. Regular stretching can help soothe tension in the foot and calf. This can help relieve pain and improve your symptoms over time.
- The Plantar Fascia
- Begin by sitting down and crossing your right foot over the left. Grab your toes and gently pull them back toward the shin to stretch the arch of the foot.
- Hold the position for a count of ten then repeat 8 to 10 times. You should feel the stretch in the back of the injured foot, just above the heel.
- The Calves
- Start by standing facing a wall and placing your hands flat against it. Step your right foot behind the left, keeping both feet parallel to each other and toes pointing forward toward the wall.
- Next, straighten your right leg and gently lean toward the wall by bending the left knee while keeping your back heel on the ground. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, and then switch feet.
- Extended Wide Squat
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Bend your knees, and lower your hips down toward the ground. If your heels don’t touch the ground, roll up a towel or the back of your mat, and place it under your heels for support.
- Bring your palms together at your heart center, and firmly press your elbows against the inside of your knees. This will help to open your hips even further. Hold for 30 secs.
- Next, release the hands to the floor and walk them away from your feet to increase the stretch in the hips and lower back. Press the heels down and hold for another 30 secs.
- Runner’s Lunge
- Starting in a plank position with the shoulders over the wrists, step your left foot forward to the outside of your left hand.
- Hold for five breaths, actively pressing the right heel back.
- Step the left foot back and repeat with the right knee bent for 30 secs.
- Tip Toe Single Leg Down Dog
- From a plank position, lift your hips up, coming into the upside down V position known as downward dog. Hold here for 15-20 secs, pressing the heels toward the floor to stretch the calves.
- Step the feet together so the big toes are touching. Inhale to raise your left leg into the air, holding single leg dog for 10 secs.
- Then come into Tip Toe Single Leg Dog by lifting the right heel as high as you can to stretch the arch of the right foot.
- Hold here for 15-20 secs, keeping the shoulders parallel to the floor.
- Lower the left foot back to the floor and repeat Tip Toe Single-Leg Dog and Tip-Toe Single-Leg Dog on the right side.
- Lower the right foot and come back to Down Dog for another 15-20 secs, trying to lower the heels even more, feeling a deeper stretch in the calves.
- Toe-Breaker Pose
- Kneel on the floor. Tuck your toes toward your knees. Stay here if this is enough of a stretch, or if you want to go deeper, slowly lower your pelvis to sit on your heels.
- Hold this stretch for 20-30 secs, leaning the torso back if you want to intensify the stretch. Don’t forget to breathe.
- Seated Shin Stretch
- Begin seated on your shins.
- Interlace your hands behind you in a double fist, pressing the heels of your palms together. Pull your pressed palms toward the floor, opening through the chest and shoulders.
- Or for an even deeper stretch, rest your hands on the floor behind you, raising your knees off the floor slightly to increase the stretch in the front of your feet and shins.
- Breathe deeply for 20-30 secs.
To manage plantar fasciitis, try taping your feet. Sports tape improves blood flow, provides support, and helps reduce inflammation and swelling with soft compression. It also helps support the affected limb and keeps it from moving in a way that worsens your symptoms. Sports taping offers short term pain relief for patients with plantar fasciitis.
To see a physio therapist can help to diagnose what causes the plantar fasciitis and get some good therapy. They can check if the pain you’re dealing with is actually from plantar fasciitis and provide you with a recommendation if it isn’t.
Stretch your Feet, Release Plantar Fascia, Keep Running Strong & Feel Great!