Plantar Fasciitis In Runners
In this post I have compiled extensive research to cover Plantar Fasciitis treatment for runners.
With my experience of having this problem for a number of months, I know just how frustrating it can be. I will explain what treatments helped me, along with a list of the best treatments available to get you back out on the trail.
Plantar Fasciitis is a common injury not only in the running community, but in society as a whole. It is inflammation of the thick band of connective tissue under the foot called the plantar fascia.
What is its Function?
The plantar fascia runs along the bottom of your foot connecting the heel bone to your toes. It stabilises the arch of the foot and when running or walking it functions mainly during the “toe off” phase of the stride allowing flexion of the front of the foot.
What Does Plantar Fasciitis Feel Like?
Plantar Fasciitis typically feels like a stabbing/tearing pain in the bottom of the foot. The location of the pain can differ from person to person but in most cases is located anywhere from the arch area to the heel.
The pain can be at its worst with the first few steps after waking. It can also be present when standing for long periods or after running or walking for periods.
When you are running, the plantar fascia acts like a shock absorber, supporting the arch of the foot. If the tension and stress on that area becomes too great, small micro-tears can arise in that stressed area. Repetitive tearing and stretching of the fascia then becomes inflamed to where the inflammation becomes quite sore and hard to walk or weight bear on.
It is important to be aware, as in many injury scenarios, that surrounding muscles can often play a significant role. Often a tight calf muscle and/or tight Achilles tendon will have a direct effect on the plantar fascia. As the calf muscle is tight and shortened it forces the plantar fascia to overcompensate in the flexion process. Ultimately it becomes the weakest link and is what “gives” in the injury event.
With this in mind, part of plantar fasciitis treatment for runners will include therapy on these supportive areas. I will go into this further down.
Other Factors Contributing to Plantar Fasciitis
Although plantar fasciitis can arise without an obvious cause, the factors that can increase your chances of developing it includes:
Sudden Increases in Mileage
Suddenly increasing your normal mileage by more than the 10% increase per week or going on a long run that is way over what your body is used to increases the chances of developing plantar fasciitis.
Poor Foot Structure
Being flat-footed, or having a collapsed arch from hallux valgus (bunions). Also sometimes having high arches or having a running style that heavily loads the front of the foot (running too much on your toes).
Inappropriate Running Shoes
Every foot in the world is different. So when looking for the right shoes for you it is imperative that you get the right amount of support and good fit for your individual foot type.
If you are one of the low percentage of people that have very strong, structurally sound feet you are lucky and have a wider selection of shoes to choose from like minimalist shoes (if you want to).
But if you do not I would highly suggest a shoe with good support and strength through the arch and heel areas.
Excess weight will put extra stress on your plantar fascia area.
Over Stretching Before Running
Some light stretching (once warmed up) before running can be good, but over stretching the calves or plantar fascia areas can result in micro-tears in the fascia before you go for a run. Then while running this area can become inflamed.
Being on Your Feet for Very Long Periods
Those who spend most of their days walking or standing on hard surfaces can damage their plantar fascia.
So How Do I Treat Plantar Fasciitis?
There are several approaches to plantar fasciitis treatment for runners. The first step is to be accurately diagnosed by a professional.
If you become aware of the situation in the early stages you could treat the area by icing and rubbing anti inflammatory cream on it 2-3 times each day. Try to keep off your feet with rest. When walking around make sure you wear comfortable supportive footwear especially with adequate arch support.
These are great for adding comfort and especially adding arch support if needed, The innersoles that come in most of the shoes you buy are very basic and are not adequate for some people.
Plantar Fasciitis Socks and Sock Sleeves
There are specially made socks or sock sleeves designed for plantar fasciitis suffers. I personally have used SB SOX sleeves and found them great for supporting the arch area. They can also be good if you are in the recovery stage and want support when walking around the house barefoot.
**For AMAZON AUSTRALIA click here
This is the main approach that helped me. By wearing a splint that stretches your calf and the arch of the foot while you sleep, it holds the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon in a lengthened position and facilitates stretching.
By doing this at night when most of the bodies repairing is done, it heals in this stretched position. So when you stand on your foot in the morning you get minimal micro-tearing. As opposed to sleeping with the foot/plantar fascia in a flaccid, non-tensioned position, as soon as you stand in the morning you get re-tearing of any just healed areas.
This is why a lot of sufferers have the most amount of soreness when they get out of bed in the morning because of this re-tearing.
Now the splint I used was the Strassburg Sock and it is not the most comfortable thing to wear while sleeping, but you do get used to it (well I did anyway). And I was at the stage where I would try anything to get back to running.
Depending on the amount of damage to the area will determine how long you will need to wear it for. I wore mine for between 2-3 weeks and could see a definite improvement after 7 nights of use. But recovery will be different for everyone.
**Also for people that suffer from hallux valgus (bunions), I have found a night splint can help with this problem too.
** For AMAZON AUSTRALIA click here
**For AMAZON AUSTRALIA click here
A physical therapist can instruct you with a series of exercises to stretch the Achillies Tendon (not the plantar fascia) and to strengthen lower leg muscles which stabilize your ankle and knees.
Here is a link that I found helpful in my rehabilitation process-
This procedure directs sound waves into the problem area of the plantar fascia to stimulate blood flow and therefore healing. It is used when the more conservative treatments have not responded favourably. It might cause bruising, swelling, pain, numbness or tingling. Studies have shown promising results on many, but it is not consistently effective on everyone.
I hope that plantar fasciitis treatment for runners gives you a sound knowledge of what Plantar Fasciitis is and ways you can go about treating your specific problem.
Make sure you check out the YouTube link to Physical Therapist and Personal Trainer Jeff Cavalier for a great insight on how to treat and how the surrounding muscles closely tie in to this treatment.
If you have any questions or comments or what has worked for you, I would love to hear from you below.