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Plantar Fasciitis 101

September 24th, 2012

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.

Icing, stretching and massaging the affected area with a ball or roller can help ease discomfort. Try the FootWheel, Pro-Tec Plantar Fasciitis Massage Balls or the Trigger Point Massage Ball.

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?

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  • DT

    What type of treatment worked best for me? RUN MORE!!!

  • derrick

    I switched back to my kayanos for longer runs and when I ran with my hyperspeeds I slowed down and focused on good form and midfoot landings. Still feel it some with hyperspeeds but it was better.

  • Charlene

    I used ‘the sock’ and it helped. Also stretching calves, wearing insoles and doing exercises to strengthen my ankles. I had PF for over a year, it sucks.

  • lecarmat

    WOW! PF!

    The WORST thing that EVER happened to me.

    I had returned to running in my early 40′s after 10 to 15 years of off and on. I was running really well, lost weight got kinda fast.

    Really felt like a runner/racer. Joined a race group, got a USATF card, ran races and started feeling good….than “MUDSTOCK” 2006(?){USATF Club Championship’s} held in SF at the Golden Gate Park, biggest race (in size and scope) I had ever been in. And proceeded to shred my plantar’s. Thats right both feet!!!

    Went to podiatrist, “you need a more stable shoe”, another one “you need custom arch support”. Internet, any device, wrap, supplement, roller, wedge etc, etc, etc, sold I bought.

    Nothing.

    Well not nothing, but very little.

    Felt like a 10 penny nail was being forced into my heel on each step.

    Need to “potty” at 2 AM meant a crawl from bed to to loo on my hands and knees.

    Sit too long at work and need to get up fast meant hobbling like an old(er) man.

    Thought my running days were over. Which was REALLY depressing. My main identity would be gone. I would get fat again, cholesterol up, BP up, no sense of self :( :(

    THEN……

    “5 Minute Plantar Fasciitis Cure”

    Read it!!!

    + Minimalist shoes

    Skechers GoRuns, (Running Warehouse PLEASE get them!!), NB 730′s, removed my foot beds even from my daily work shoes. Barefoot grass drills, little by little, I can feel my feet get stronger, day by day, month by month.

    There IS hope!!!!

    NOW…what to do about my hair…………..?

  • John Medved

    I have had PF. I no longer believe that PF is caused out of your foot – more like to be your calf in some way. So, use a foam roller or stick on your calf – I would avoid anything but light hand massage of the actual PF which is already inflamed and sore. Walking barefoot on the beach might help too.

  • http://www.functionalfitnessva.com Thomas Abbey, RKC

    Everyone, please realize that continually adding more structure does not fix the problem. Increasing cushioning, adding insoles and orthodics will only continue to decrease foot strength and increase structural instability when not perfectly supported. Seeing as these are the direct causes of plantar fasciitis, they should be avoided at all costs. Instead, once the inflammation is brought down with rest and ice, work on increasing foot/lower leg strength, while concurrently increasing the flexibility of the gastrocs and the soleus. Stick work and massage can help greatly, but they must be coupled with strength work to truly be effective at preventing future issues. Best of luck!

  • http://HeelPainSolution.com Doc Brown

    After treating thousands of cases of plantar fasciitis over the past 10 years I have found the combination of night splint, foot roller (no stretching) and decreasing running distance by 1/3 to be the most effective. The injured plantar fascia will loosen and start to feel better after several minutes of running but increased damage is being done to the area and the result will be an extra tight and painful heel later that evening or the next morning.

  • dsr1811

    I’ve had it twice, once in each foot. Tried a lot of stuff, but only one thing really worked for me – rest. I had to stop running till it went away. I did cheat every now and then, but mostly I had to bike instead. I’m not a biker, but it was better than nothing. It’s gone again now, but now my knee hurts. Always something.

  • http://www.cheapbasketballmall.com kelly

    Start to feel better after several minutes of running but increased damage is being done to the area.

  • Leland

    with PF i started to use a foot roller to ease the pain

  • http://nrgtribe.com William

    Good article on small physician led health and fitness sight related to PF.
    http://www.nrgtribe.com/arghhh-my-feet-are-killing-me-what-to-do-about-plantar-fasciitis/

  • Van

    Thanks for sharing this information and your perspective. Plantar fasciitis affects many people and conservative options should be considered and made available.