Many runners have experienced the pain of plantar fasciitis. The condition, characterized by sharp pain or tenderness in the arch or heel of the foot, is typically most severe when standing first thing in the morning or after sitting for a long period of time.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a strip of connective tissue running from the heel to the metatarsal heads at the base of the toes. This tissue plays a large role in shock absorption and support for the foot during the gait cycle. Plantar fasciitis, or inflammation of the plantar fascia, occurs when microscopic tears accumulate in this connective tissue due to excess stress and strain.
How Does Plantar Fasciitis Develop?
Plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury caused by repetitive stress on the plantar fascia. Increasing the mileage or the intensity of your training too quickly, or logging a lot of miles on very hard surfaces, can lead to injury. Some sources suggest that shoes with too little cushioning or structure may also cause increased stress on the plantar fascia. Others feel that cushioned support shoes actually can contribute to plantar fasciitis developing, arguing that overall foot strength is negatively impacted by this type of shoe.
How Can You Treat It?
Most often, rest of the plantar fascia will be recommended. If you can’t avoid activities that may strain the plantar fascia, then make sure your footwear provides adequate arch support. Structured replacement insoles or custom orthotics can add support to the shoes you already have in order to keep the arch from becoming strained.
Wearing the Pro-Tec Night Splint or the Strassburg Sock while sleeping can help reduce the onset pain of plantar fasciitis pain in the morning. These products keep the foot in a flexed position, stretching the plantar fascia and preventing its contraction.
Prevention: The Best Treatment
- Wear shoes with sufficient cushioning and arch support to decrease the stress applied to the plantar fascia.
- Limit your mileage on hard surfaces such as asphalt or concrete to reduce impact on your heel and plantar fascia. Try to stick to the trail or track for lower impact mileage.
- Keep your training constant. If you’re increasing your mileage, try to stay within a 10% increase from one week to the next.
- Stretch and strengthen the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon and calf using a massage ball or roller.
Have you had plantar fasciitis before? What type of treatment worked best for you?