Recognize and Treat – or PREVENT! – Plantar Fasciitis. Here’s how.
Image source. Featured image source.
First of all: Have you got it? Or is it something else? What is it?
An easy way to tell if you have plantar fasciitis or something different is to walk on your toes: hard heel injuries feel better while you walk on your toes, while plantar fasciitis typically produces more discomfort when you shift your weight onto your toes.
Causes? Overtraining, overuse, and wrong or worn-out footwear.
Plantar fasciitis, or jogger’s heel, is a disorder that results in pain in the heel and arch of the foot. The pain is usually most severe with the first steps of the day or following a period of rest. Pain is also frequently brought on by bending the foot and toes up towards the shin and may be worsened by a tight Achilles tendon. In most cases there is NO (or hardly any) inflammation, contrary to what was believed before.
Most runners think plantar fasciitis is a problem that will only plague beginners or overweight runners. Wrong. Turns out around 10% of runners will at some point suffer from it. It just seems to strike at random, from the weathered ultrarunner to the still podgy beginner: no one is safe.
To make matters worse, some runners will swear to you they got rid of it by going minimalist whilst others sing the praise of their super duper cushioned shoes. A high or low arch doesn’t make any difference either!
What IS clear, is the offending body part: The plantar fascia. It’s a thick fibrous band along the bottom of the foot, as you can see in the image at the top.
How to treat plantar fasciitis?
There quite a few typically suggested fixes. Such as:
- Rest your feet
- Wear arch supportive footwear or inserts
- Ice the heel
- Take ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to reduce pain (and inflammation if any).
- Wear night splints
- Cortisone injections (definitely to be avoided)
The only thing is: these are not proven, and mostly only minimally effective. Whilst they may provide quick relief, they don’t cure the underlying problem: weakened and tight muscles in the foot.
Biggest cause of these misbeliefs: Plantar fasciitis tends to resolve itself eventually regardless of what you do, leading many people to try to run through it — which may extend the injury — and then swear by whatever treatment they happened to try last…
The only long term solution is diligent stretching combined with strengthening the muscles in and around the feet. (Don’t forget your calves either!) This will address the root of the problem and fence off a relapse.