Thursday, February 12, 2009

Plantar Facsiitis

I have a new injury I recently developed. I thought I would share my findings for other sufferers of this common ailment: Plantar Facsiitis (pronounced fa-shee-eye-tiss). No, it's not some skin-eating infection; it's heel pain. Actually, it's excruciating pain at the juncture between your arch and the heel. It's so bad I can barely walk, especially first thing in the morning. It feels like a knife has been jabbed into my foot. After my week off from my cold, I noticed a little ache in my arch after my Monday easy run. Then, my massage therapist worked on it, trying to "break up" the tissue (it's a thick band of tissue, much like the IT band). This, of course, made it sore. And then, I ran on the track last night, sealing my fate. Oh, and my running shoes haven't been replaced since October. And, I threw out the insert for arch support in my regular shoes. Did I mention I have high arches? All I know is that today I can't walk. Clearly, I caused a major flare-up. Add all this together, stir and Whallah! A new running injury!

What is the Plantar Fascia?
A band of connective tissue that runs from the base of the heel to the toes

What does it feel like?
Stabbing or aching pain at the base of the arch
Often worse in the morning

How do you get it?
  • extremely high or low arches (check on the high part)
  • sudden increase in running mileage (check on both)
  • bad running shoes (check--mine are old)
  • poor biomechanics (running on the balls of your feet, for instance---hmmmm.)
  • running on hard surfaces (like the track?)

How do you treat it?

  • RICE at onset (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
  • Decrease running mileage (absolutely no hills or speed work) and focus on alternative sports (swimming and biking, for instance)
  • Roll a golf ball under your foot or tennis ball (ouch!). Put it in the freezer to ice at the same time.
  • Wear supportive shoes with arch support at all times (no going barefoot! no flip flops!)
  • Massage (I am tempted to try acupuncture too; just a thought).
  • See a podiatrist or sports medicine specialist if pain does not improve in 3 weeks (I swear by orthotics!)
  • Stretching:
  • Plantar Fascia Stretch: Sit down, and place the affected foot across your knee. Using the hand on your affected side, pull your toes back toward your shin until you feel a stretch in your arch. Run your thumb along your foot--you should feel tension. Hold for a count of 10.
  • Achilles Tendon Stretch: Stand with your affected foot behind your healthy one. Point the toes of the back foot toward the heel of the front foot, and lean into a wall. Bend the front knee and keep the back knee straight, heel firmly planted on the floor. Hold for a count of 10.
  • Don't forget the calves--tight calves can exacerbate it too

Useful Links:,7120,s6-241-286--6710-0,00.html
More Stretches--,7120,s6-241-286--11327-0,00.html


Sherry said...

I'm so sorry to learn that you are dealing with this. A friend of mine is a chronic sufferer. I keep 'waiting' for it to show up in my feet since it seems like just about every runner/triathlete out there has had to deal with it. It's like waiting for a bomb to go off. Argh! Hope you get it under control and can get back to training ASAP. :o)

triguyjt said...

you can recover from this....
I had it 3 diff times over 12 years...its treatableand you can go on running....good luck

Bob D said...

It's either the current Runner's World, or one back, there's an article about some tricky way to tape PF to help. Same tape (different place) you might have noticed on the Olympic beach volleyball players. Might be worth a look.

Update: I went ahead and found it. Here it is if you're interested:,7120,s6-241-286--13017-0,00.html

Anonymous said...

Hi! I follow you blog on occassions. I'm sorry about the plantar fasciitis. I got that last year and I swear by Birkenstocks/Mephisto sandals. The support on those sandals really helped me get back to running again.


teacherwoman said...

Oh no. I am so sorry to hear about this. My friend has this and she says it is extremely painful. I hope it gets better for you!

beth said...

NO! get better soon! heal fast (pun intended!)

Grey Beard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grey Beard said...

Had PF bad last year. Everything I did made it worse. It slowly got kinda, sorta better. Then I started bike riding seriously. I didn't even think about it, but 3 weeks later I realized my PF was pretty much gone. No stabbing pain in the morning.

Biking doesn't put much stress on the PF tendon because it isn't spanning from the heel to the toes, just from the heel to the balls of the feet, and then only partial body weight. You still get a nice stretch of the PF and calf, but the PF pain just melts away.

As they say on Wall St, better lucky than good. I think if you ask around in biking circles this is pretty common knowledge. Since both this and turf toe tend to be hyper-extension injuries you might want to wonder if/how that is happening. Hope this helps.

(Come up to Sacatomatoes and see Lance Armstrong over the weekend! So psyched to have so many legends riding on the bike trail - WOW)

RunBubbaRun said...

Sorry to hear about that. I have had PF for the past 2+ months. Tried not running, but that didn't help. So I run now but not fast, isn't getting a worst, but a little better..

Yeah I think stretching all the helps alot.

ps. night splint helps me alot as well.

Leah said...

I had a similar problem and my chiropractor did active release therapy (ART) on it and it went away pretty fast.

Shan said...

eee-gads! NOOOO! PF can be really brutal, but ART might help it if RICE doesn't do the trick.

I hope you heal soon!!! Hugs!

Mark said...

Two Words: The Sock

Diana said...

Having this does suck, I had it a few years ago and it took 9 months to get over it. I used a small can of soup that I put in the freezer, and then right away in the morning I would roll my foot on it-that felt great. Best of luck to a speedy recovery!

Anonymous said...

That doesn't sound very pleasant, to say the least! Hope it goes away soon.

Justin! said...

Sorry to hear about your PF. If you are an avid endurance athlete, PF seems to come and go as it pleases. I am dealing with a bout of it right's a killer to training some days.

If you find the magic pill-let me know!

Good luck.