As an experienced runner or even a beginner, you undoubtedly know how important it is to maintain the health of your feet. The stress from running on the feet varies from top to side and bottom. While foot pain can often be light and caused by a sore muscle, in some cases, the pain is a sign of an injury or severe issue. Although it might be tempting to take a day off and keep running once the pain is gone, in all cases, it is essential to accurately assess any pain, treat it properly, and know the signs of those more significant issues like plantar fasciitis.
Today, we'll talk a bit about what plantar fasciitis is, some tips and tricks to prevent it, and some expert advice on caring for it.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a degenerative condition that affects the thick band of tissue, called a fascia, at the bottom of your foot that runs from your heel to your toes. Doctors once believed that heel spurs and bony growths were responsible for the pain. Now, evidence points to heel spur being a symptom of plantar fasciitis, not the cause of it. The fascia supports the muscles and the arch of your foot. You can risk getting tiny tears on its surface when stretched too far, which brings pain and inflammation.
What Other Symptoms can Lead to Plantar Fasciitis?
While high impact can lead to increased foot pain and possibly plantar fasciitis, other factors can heighten the risk of developing it.
• High arches
• Flat or no arches
• Change in training intensity
• Changes in body weight
• Footwear fits incorrectly or does not offer proper support
• Incorrect running form
What Are the Symptoms?
• Foot pain localized to the bottom of your foot near the heel
• Higher or more extreme pain first thing in the morning, most noticeable when getting out of bed and standing for the first time or after sitting for long periods, after exercise—which eventually fades after walking or moving for a while.
• Increase in foot or heel pain after exercise but not during exercise.
Tips and Tricks to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis
What relatively easy ways are there to protect yourself from a higher risk of Plantar Fasciitis?
Wear Good Running Shoes
It may be tempting for a runner to go the cheaper route, but the shoes are the most critical part of any runner's kit. Your shoe affects your entire body while you run! Good running shoes help maintain proper run posture and stride and protect shins, ankles, and more. It may take some time and a bit of research to find a good pair that can fit your budget, but it is worthwhile to take your time to find the ideal running shoe. Look for a shoe with excellent arch support and cushioning; if possible, try them on to ensure that the fit is proper. Along with finding a good running shoe, it's critical to replace them regularly as with wear and tear, structures change, support wears down, and that can lead to foot issues.
Make sure your arches have all the support they need. One fantastic inexpensive way to support arches is to try wearing compression socks with extra cushioning layers. These layers help improve blood flow, keep your foot and arches stable, and can reduce inflammation.
Features to look out for if you have flat feet or low arches
• Wide toe box
• Straight or semi-curved shoes last
• Midfoot supportive elements
• Heel support
• Midsole supportive elements
Features to look out for if you have mid to high-arches
• Cushioning and shock absorption
• High arch support
• Nuetral running shoes
Train with Caution and Consciousness
It can be tempting in our enthusiasm when we train to try and push our body without concern or, after recovery, to jump back into the same intensity of running. Pushing yourself too far can cause more harm than good. Try not to increase running times or speed abruptly, but always go slow and ease into longer or higher-intensity runs. Give your body a chance to adjust and give yourself plenty of time to rest properly.
If you suspect you have plantar fasciitis, we recommend seeing your health provider for a diagnosis. Your doctor can recommend treatment. Along with doctor-recommended treatment, it is vital to rest. Plantar fasciitis pain comes from tiny tears in the tissue that develop via excessive wear and tear, so you must listen to your body and give your feet the much-needed rest they deserve to heal.
Put your daily walks or runs on hold and keep any swelling down by taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. You might find it highly beneficial to use ice and heat therapy to reduce swelling and pain further.
Exercises That Help and Prevent Plantar Fasciitis
Stretching can help with or help prevent plantar fasciitis. Here are some of our favorite stretches to do:
1. Seated on a bed or a chair, place a towel on the floor. Try to grab the towel by curling your toes and pulling it toward you.
2. Seated in a comfortable position, reach down and try and grasp your toes. Gently begin to pull your toes toward you until you feel a stretch in the arch of your foot. Make sure not to pull too far so that you feel pain; you only want to feel a gentle stretch.
3. Facing a wall and standing a foot or two away, place your left and right hands flat on the wall. Step one foot forward with the other remaining flat on the floor while leaning your hips forward until you feel a light stretching in your calf. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds, switching legs. Avoid bouncing or stretching so far that you feel pain, and try to do two repetitions twice or three times a day.
Additionally, you should check out a comprehensive article on this blog that goes in-depth on how compression socks relieve symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Are you currently experiencing increased pain and plantar fasciitis symptoms and doing your doctor-recommended preventative treatments and exercises? In that case, it's critical to return to your doctor so they can take a closer look at what is going on and come up with alternative treatment plans that will work for you.
We hope we've been able to help you and that you've enjoyed learning with us! Keep your feet protected and your running fun!